This story got some attention early today:
The COVID-19 pandemic calls for an urgent reality check against baseless information and for increased efforts so everyone has access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools, Pope Francis told diplomats from around the world.
He urged individuals, governments and the international community to recognize the effectiveness and importance of immunizing as many people as possible as part of fighting the pandemic, which he called a “grave moment in the life of humanity.”
Here’s the complete text of his remarks, and all that he had to say about vaccines and the pandemic:
In these days, we are conscious that the fight against the pandemic still calls for a significant effort on the part of everyone; certainly, the New Year will continue to be demanding in this regard. The coronavirus continues to cause social isolation and to take lives. Among those who have died, I would like to mention the late Archbishop Aldo Giordano, an Apostolic Nuncio who was well-known and respected in the diplomatic community. At the same time, we have realized that in those places where an effective vaccination campaign has taken place, the risk of severe repercussions of the disease has decreased.
It is therefore important to continue the effort to immunize the general population as much as possible. This calls for a manifold commitment on the personal, political and international levels. First, on the personal level. Each of us has a responsibility to care for ourself and our health, and this translates into respect for the health of those around us. Health care is a moral obligation. Sadly, we are finding increasingly that we live in a world of strong ideological divides. Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts. Every ideological statement severs the bond of human reason with the objective reality of things. The pandemic, on the other hand, urges us to adopt a sort of “reality therapy” that makes us confront the problem head on and adopt suitable remedies to resolve it. Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease.
‘Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease.’
A political commitment is thus needed to pursue the good of the general population through measures of prevention and immunization that also engage citizens so that they can feel involved and responsible, thanks to a clear discussion of the problems and the appropriate means of addressing them. The lack of resolute decision-making and clear communication generates confusion, creates mistrust and undermines social cohesion, fueling new tensions. The result is a “social relativism” detrimental to harmony and unity.
In the end, a comprehensive commitment on the part of the international community is necessary, so that the entire world population can have equal access to essential medical care and vaccines. We can only note with regret that, for large areas of the world, universal access to health care remains an illusion. At this grave moment in the life of humanity, I reiterate my appeal that governments and concerned private entities demonstrate a sense of responsibility, developing a coordinated response at every level (local, national, regional, global), through new models of solidarity and tools to strengthen the capabilities of those countries in greatest need. In particular, I would urge all states, who are working to establish an international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response under the aegis of the World Health Organization, to adopt a policy of generous sharing as a key principle to guarantee everyone access to diagnostic tools, vaccines and drugs. Likewise, it is appropriate that institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization adapt their legal instruments lest monopolistic rules constitute further obstacles to production and to an organized and consistent access to healthcare on a global level.