The Pope urges rich people to give coronavirus vaccine priority to 'the most vulnerable and needy'
Pope Francis wearing a mask. Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Friday said the “most vulnerable and needy” populations should receive a coronavirus vaccine first. 

“I ask everyone – government leaders, businesses, international organizations – to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet,” he said in his annual Christmas address. “Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”

Wealthy countries have been buying up most of the available coronavirus vaccine supply, while poor countries are scrambling for supplies.

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In his Christmas address Friday, Pope Francis urged the rich to step back and allow the “most vulnerable and needy” populations to receive a coronavirus vaccine first. 

“I cannot place myself ahead of others, letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity,” he said, according to the transcript of his address from the Vatican.

“I ask everyone – government leaders, businesses, international organizations – to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet,” he added. “Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”

His remarks come just ahead of reports of wealthy countries buying up most of the available coronavirus vaccine supply. Less well-off countries are “scrambling for supplies,” Business Insider’s Sinéad Baker reported. 

These rich countries have purchased enough vaccines to allow their residents to receive more than the needed dosage for immunity. Other countries, on the other hand, are struggling to immunize even enough of their population and contain the virus. If the trend persists, these struggling countries might have to wait years to achieve mass vaccination, according to estimates from the World Health Organization. 

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Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 79,000,000 people, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States, with at least 18,600,000, is the country that leads with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases. 

In his address, the Pope emphasized his belief that the vaccine should be available to anyone who needs one. 

“Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty regarding the pandemic, various lights of hope appear, such as the discovery of vaccines. But for these lights to illuminate and bring hope to all, they need to be available to all,” he said.

Pope Francis also said he hopes the holiday season will encourage people “to be generous, supportive and helpful, especially towards those who are vulnerable, the sick, those unemployed or experiencing hardship due to the economic effects of the pandemic, and women who have suffered domestic violence during these months of lockdown.”

“In the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls. All of us are in the same boat,” he continued. “Every other person is my brother or my sister.”

The Pope’s Christmas address is normally given to a crowd of tens of thousands of people who gather in St. Peter’s Square. 

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The Pope urges rich people to give coronavirus vaccine priority to 'the most vulnerable and needy'

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