Watch: Pope insists rich should not be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

Pope Francis insisted that universal access should be guaranteed if a Covid-19 vaccine is developed, warning that the pandemic was exacerbating inequalities between the rich and the poor.

The Pope focused on the Covid-19 pandemic in his weekly general audience, held at the library of the Apostolic Palace.

“The virus, while it does not distinguish between people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discrimination. And it has exacerbated them,” he exclaimed.

The response to the pandemic should therefore be dual, Pope Francis said. On one hand, it was essential to find a cure for a virus “which has brought the whole world to its knees.”

“On the other, we must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation, and the lack of protection for the weakest,” he added. “In this dual response for healing there is a choice that, according to the Gospel, cannot be lacking: the preferential option for the poor.”

The Pope recognised that many wished to return to normality and resume economic activity, but this normality should not include social injustice and environmental degradation. He appealed for the world to seize the opportunity to build something different, and nurture an economy which puts the wellbeing of the poor at its heart.

“It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest! It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all,” he insisted.

“And what a scandal it would be if all the economic assistance we are observing – most of it with public money – were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation.

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