Prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, has advocated for equal access to Covid-19 vaccines and expressed the need to facilitate vaccine production in developing countries.
Marking the World Day of the Sick on February 11, 2021—an annual observance introduced by Pope St. John Paul II, to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses—in the present context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and to kick-off vaccination efforts in several countries—Cardinal Turkson noted that, many countries do not have the capacity to produce the Covid-19 vaccines.
Moreover, though these countries depend on producing countries like China, Russia and India for the vaccines, the efficacy of the vaccines is sometimes questionable and are not accessible to all.
According to him, some countries like Senegal, Ethiopia and South Africa, may have the capacity to produce the Covid-19 vaccines themselves but are hindered by patents that grant exclusive rights to some while precluding others from producing same in their own countries.
“The south of the world turns its head towards the north to get the vaccine, neglecting that it could be produced directly here,” Cardinal Turkson said to Vatican News.
Stressing that the imbalanced situation of vaccine production is “no longer sustainable,” Cardinal Turkson urged developed countries not to restrict others from vaccine production through patents.
He also expressed his wish that the World Trade Organization would consider poorer countries in its decision making.
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s Covid-19 Commission, requested by Pope Francis and led by Cardinal Turkson, has been tirelessly studying the effects of the pandemic on mental health.
The Commission recently released a document on living together in domestic spaces during the time of the health emergency.
Cardinal Turkson explained that it is a “pastoral and guiding” document that aims to give encouragement to those suffering physically from the pandemic and to those who take care of them.
The Cardinal went on to encourage all in this period of the health emergency to “lend a hand” to those in need.
“To anyone who is afflicted by Covid, there is a need for a hand—to reach out a hand to support, to help and to lift up anybody,” he said.
“For those who have lost loved ones, there is also the need for the hand of consolation and solace to help them in their sorrow.”
“This is the period for lending a hand—lending a hand to anybody who is sorrowing, who has lost anybody, and who is dealing with this pandemic,” Cardinal Turkson said.