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Global faith leaders speak out against vaccine nationalism

THE Archbishop of Canterbury is among the Christian and other religious leaders who, on Monday, joined the heads of the world’s largest health and humanitarian organisations to urge governments to choose “vaccine nationalism or human solidarity”.

Their joint declaration says that “equitable vaccine distribution is a humanitarian imperative,” and repeats the message: “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Other signatories are the executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore; the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi; the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus: and the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Francesco Rocca.

Among the religious leaders are the grand imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb; the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Excellency Emmanuel of Chalcedon; the co-president of Religions for Peace, Rabbi David Rosen; and Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches.

The declaration was made to coincide with the opening day of the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body, which will focus on the pandemic.

Humanitarian and religious leaders have been warning of the damage caused by vaccine nationalism for months (News, 30 April), and have urged countries with high vaccination rates to consider not vaccinating their teenagers and young people but donating their extra vaccines to COVAX, the global initiative that seeks to give access to a vaccine to the poorest 20 per cent of the world’s population (News, 26 March).

Read the full article by visiting Church Times.