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C of E bishops call on rich nations to stop 'hoarding' vaccines

by Donna Birrell

Church of England bishops are backing calls for the leaders of the world's richest countries to halt the "hoarding" of Covid-19 vaccines while billions of people around the world have yet to be jabbed.

Members of the College of Bishops voted unanimously to endorse a statement by the Anglican Health & Community Network and the Anglican Alliance which demands an emergency meeting of the G7 to commit to vaccine equity.

It warns that potentially millions of vaccines stockpiled by wealthy countries could go to waste after passing their "use by" date rather than be shared with those in urgent need.

Earlier this year G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall promised to donate more than one billion doses of vaccine but it is estimated that less than 15 per cent of these have so far materialised.

World leaders, who are attending the UN General Assembly in New York this week, are expected to decide whether to call an emergency G7 meeting to address the issue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the UN Secretary General António Guterres in support of the call.

The statement notes that the vast majority of doses administered so far have been in high and upper-middle income countries - while across Africa vaccination coverage is estimated at just two per cent.

"Even as booster jabs are given and over-12s vaccinated, rich nations are still on track to amass an excess of one billion vaccines by the end of the year," the statement warns.

"This excess will only increase in 2022 as global vaccine manufacturing increases. Rich nations must not hoard the surpluses amassed - but must share.

"The lives and health of millions around the world are at risk, alongside the threat of new variants emerging globally."

It concludes: "We are one human family. 

"We can and must work together to end this pandemic, leaving no one behind."

The Bishop of Hertford, Michael Beasley, who is an epidemiologist and a Co-Convenor of the Anglican Health & Community Network, brought the statement to the College of Bishops to ask for their support :

"Our archbishops and bishops have spoken unanimously to add their voices to calls for the G7 countries urgently to meet to address the issues of rich nations' hoarding and wastage of vaccines.

"We ask the G7 leaders to find ways to recognise that we are one world and to share vaccines so that no one will be left behind."


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