145 religious leaders: “Reject vaccine nationalism. Moral obligation to reach everyone”

In a global effort, 145 religious leaders from across the world – Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists – have united their voices in a letter to heads of State and Government and pharmaceutical companies calling for global and universal access to vaccines.

“We call on all leaders to reject vaccine nationalism and embrace a commitment to global vaccine equity. As religious leaders, we join our voices to the call for vaccines that are made available to all people as a global common good – a People’s Vaccine. This is the only way to end the pandemic.”

Signatories include Card. Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Franciscan friars of Assisi, Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury; Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town; Jim Winkler, President of the National Council of Churches in the USA.

At the height of the “Indian emergency” the religious leaders recall our interdependence and our responsibilities “to care for one another.” “We can each only be safe when all of us are safe. If one part of the world is left to suffer the pandemic, all parts of the world will be put at ever-increasing risk,” says the statement.

The initiative falls under the scope of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations and activists campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for COVID-19, and calling for the COVID-19 vaccines to be free from patents.

“Every person is precious. We all have a moral obligation to reach everyone, in every country.” Signatories voice their concern over the inequitable vaccine availability in rich countries while in most low- and middle-income countries vaccines are only beginning to trickle in.

“The access of people to life-saving Covid-19 vaccines cannot be dependent on people’s wealth, status, or nationality,” the religious leaders write in their statement. “We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters by imagining that the market can be left to resolve the crisis or pretend to ourselves that our country has no obligation to people in their country.”

Hence the request to the heads of Government, civil society, and the private sector to increase and ramp up vaccine production to ensure sufficient doses for every person in the world.

(Photo: Sara Toffano)

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