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Anglican leaders in call for “equitable” global access to Covid-19 vaccines after online meeting

Posted on: November 12, 2020 1:52 PM
Cumulative confirmed Covid-19 deaths per million people, as of 12 November 2020
Photo Credit: Our World In Data

Potential Covid-19 vaccines should be made available to the world’s poorest people, the Primates of the Anglican Communion said. They made their call in a Communiqué published today after an online meeting held last week to discuss the global health emergency. During the meeting, they were briefed by two representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO and discussed regional reports from each other on the impact of the pandemic.

The WHO’s Executive Director for Health Emergencies Preparedness & Response, Dr Mike Ryan, told the Anglican leaders that “Epidemics are about communities. Communities stop epidemics. For this reason, we are eager to work with faith leaders to build solidarity and uphold social justice – enabling you to speak to communities in a credible and understandable way.”

Dr Sylvie Briand, Director for Global Infectious Hazards Preparedness in WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, gave a global overview of the pandemic, before taking questions from the Primates.

Speaking at the meeting, which took place before this week’s announcement of a potential vaccine by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Dr Briand said: “We have effective vaccines for many deadly diseases, WHO is doing the utmost to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective.”

She added: “Together, I hope we can create a partnership to empower and engage communities. It is certain that the most vulnerable in communities suffer the greatest impact of any epidemic, and these vulnerable communities most in need as the vaccine roll out begins next year. It is clear that there is opportunity for mutual collaboration between the Anglican Communion both locally and globally in this regard.”

In their Communiqué, the Primates called for “the equitable roll out of anticipated Covid-19 vaccines, to prioritise health workers and the most vulnerable first in a highly politicised world.”

And they appealed “to the Governments of those countries developing vaccines to work closely with the WHO to ensure that distribution is on a just and fair basis, to the most vulnerable and not merely to the richest.”

The Primates also expressed “their deep thanks to the WHO for their service to the world.”

Two new global Anglican bodies, currently being formed, are expected to work together on Anglican responses to the Covid-19 pandemic: an Anglican Communion Health and Community Network and a Anglican Communion Science Commission.

The Primates’ Meeting is one of four “Instruments of Communion” in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, it brings together the senior archbishops and bishops of the 41 national and regional member churches.

It usually meets every couple of years and last met in-person in January this year in Jordan. Last week’s online meeting was called to address the global health emergency, also discussed internal matters to the Communion. Primates from 37 of the 41 Anglican provinces took part in the meeting.