‘The rich should not be given priority’ for Covid-19 vaccine, Pope Francis says, urges against return to ‘normality’ of inequality

Pope Francis has called on rich countries not to hoard any coronavirus vaccine and asked them to only give pandemic-related bailouts to companies committed to protecting the environment and helping the most needy.

“It would be sad if the rich are given priority for the Covid-19 vaccine. It would be sad if the vaccine becomes property of this or that nation, if it is not universal and for everyone,” Francis said during his weekly general audience on Wednesday.

The pontiff also said that the world should not return to normality after the pandemic if ‘normal’ means social injustice and the degradation of the environment. “We must come out better” from the Covid-19 pandemic, he noted.

Remarking on coronavirus-linked bailouts, Pope Francis said it would be a “scandal” if governments doled out support funds to only select industries, and instead public aid should be reserved for companies who “contribute to the inclusion of people who are normally excluded [from society], to helping the most needy, to the common good and to caring for the environment.”

Over 22 million people have been infected by the coronavirus since its outbreak, according to the latest Reuters tally, while over 780,400 have died. The race is on to develop a vaccine, with some already in the late-stage phase of their trials. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that any nation which hoards possible Covid-19 vaccines while excluding others would only deepen the pandemic.

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