12 November 2020
The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called for potential Covid-19 vaccines to be made available to the world’s poorest people. They made their call after an online meeting last week (5-6 November 2020) at which they were briefed by representatives of the World Health Organization.
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. It usually meets every couple of years and last met in-person in January. Last week’s online meeting was called to address the global health emergency. Representatives from 37 of the 41 member churches took part in last week’s meeting.
“Epidemics are about communities. Communities stop epidemics”, the WHO’s Executive Director for Health Emergencies Preparedness & Response, Dr Mike Ryan. “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.”
The main presentation was given by Dr Sylvie Briand, Director for Global Infectious Hazards Preparedness in WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. 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.”
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, 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 a Anglican Communion Science Commission.