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Man receiving vaccine in the Amazon
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World News

Church and charity leaders urge world politicians to prioritise equal vaccine distribution

by Cara Bentley

The Archbishop of Canterbury and other faith leaders have called on world leaders to share information and technology to help the global vaccine rollout if they want to avoid a future of "conflict, insecurity and poverty". 

They write in a letter that "No-one is safe until everyone is safe" and that "equitable vaccine distribution is a humanitarian imperative".

Justin Welby, alongside the executive director of UNICEF and leaders from the Red Cross and Methodist Council, argues that the effects of Covid-19 will be seen for years to come and that the whole world urgently needs to be vaccinated to limit the negative effects as much as possible. 

They write: "The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty. "

The charity and faith leaders speak about the poverty that Covid has caused and will cause, with nations facing economic slumps and individuals not being able to afford to send their children to school. They argue that access to healthcare should be drastically improved. 

"We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for Covid-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe."

"We have a choice: vaccine nationalism or human solidarity."

The leaders argue that it is in rich countries' own interests to get the world out of coronavirus, saying: "studies show that if we focus only on vaccinating our own populations, the world risks global GDP losses of up to $9.2 trillion (with half of that cost being incurred by high income countries) this year alone."

They call on world leaders to: ensure equitable access to vaccines between countries by providing vaccines, sharing knowledge and expertise; to ensure equitable access to vaccines within countries by ensuring all sectors of the population are included in national distribution and vaccination programs, regardless of who they are or where they live, including stigmatised and marginalised communities. 

They also urge world leaders to support countries financially, politically and technically, to ensure that stopping Covid-19 is just one important element of a broader strategy to bring longer-term improvements to healthcare.

They end: "It is time for decisive leadership. Countries and organisations across the world have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address global inequality and reverse some of the fallout from the past year. In doing so, they will bring hope not only for the poorest in the world, but for us all."

To see the full list of signatories, click here. 

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