Any potential COVID-19 vaccine should be made available to all, Pope Francis has said in a general address from the Vatican.
"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," Pope Francis said Aug. 19, Vatican News said.
Francis issued his comments followed a warning by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization against "vaccine nationalism."
While there is a wish amongst leaders to protect their own people first, the response to this pandemic has to be collective," WHO head Tedros had said at a media briefing on Aug. 18.
"Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country's national interest. No one is safe until everyone is safe," he said.
The WHO lists 25 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation and 139 in preclinical evaluation to fight the novel coronavirus.
Six COVID-19 vaccine candidates have reached the Phase 3 level, according to the WHO.
Three are from China, one is developed by a British-Swedish company working with Oxford University and two by US scientists.
"No one country has access to research and development, manufacturing, and all the supply chain for all essential medicines and materials," said Tedros.
In his speech Pope Francis said, "The pandemic has laid bare the difficult situation of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world," CBS news reported.,
"And the virus, while it doesn't make exceptions among persons, has found in its path, devastating, great inequalities and discrimination," said the pontiff. noting "and it has increased them."
"And if we can work together, we can ensure that all essential workers are protected, and proven treatments like dexamethasone are available to those who need them."