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Primates urge fair vaccine rollout

Leaders of the Anglican Communion have urged the world's Governments to prioritise Covid-19 vaccines for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Gavin Drake | Photo: CDC Public Health Image Library  |  13 Nov 2020  |

The Primates of the Anglican Communion have issued a call for the world's Governments to ensure safe and effective vaccines will go first to the most vulnerable people around the globe, not depending on their ability to pay.

The Primates made their call following an online meeting last week between 5-6 November, where they were briefed on pandemic issues for three hours by high-level World Health Organisation global staff. 

“Epidemics are about communities. Communities stop epidemics,” WHO Executive Director for Health Emergencies Preparedness & Response, Dr Mike Ryan told the Anglican leaders.

“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.”

WHO Director for Global Infectious Hazards Dr Sylvie Briand gave the main presentation to the Primates’ meeting, sharing how churches can play a role in supporting the rollout of sound public health information. Dr Briand 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.” 

 “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 meeting Communiqué published today, the Primates called for “the equitable roll out of anticipated Covid-19 vaccines, to prioritize health workers and the most vulnerable first in a highly politicized 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 an Anglican Communion Science Commission.

The Primates’ Meeting is one of four “Instruments of Communion” in the worldwide Anglican Communion, and brings together the senior archbishops and bishops of the 41 member churches.

The primates usually meet each couple of years and their last in-person meeting was in January 2020. Representatives from 37 of the 41 member churches took part in last week’s online meeting, which was called to address the global health emergency.