Media CenterTo End the Pandemic Anywhere, We Must End it Everywhere

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CONTACT:
Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955- 7125

 

Vaccine Equity Critical to Ending COVID-19 Pandemic

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, February 1, 2021 –  Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global health pandemic, Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), released the following statement on the need for equitable access to vaccines.

"COVID-19 has led to unimaginable human suffering on a global scale. We see it in pain among families unable to say goodbye to sick loved ones. We see it in the exhaustion of health care workers. We see it in the stress brought on by lost jobs and income. And we see it in the impacts of shadow pandemics - hunger, malnutrition, gender-based violence, educational setbacks – that have become even more acute as the pandemic's health, economic, and psychological toll persists. 

To end the pandemic anywhere, we must end it everywhere. We place great hope in the availability of a vaccine. Getting a vaccine to everyone who needs it is an extraordinary challenge. Immunizing the most vulnerable populations—including in the U.S. and low-income countries—will be vital to safeguarding everyone's health and our interconnected economies. 

We must prioritize equity, not only because doing so will hasten the end of this pandemic. The case for vaccine equity is a moral one. As a Catholic agency founded on church teaching, we believe that all people deserve adequate healthcare regardless of where they live.  

The U.S. must lead this effort. First, the U.S. can expand its support of COVAX—an international collaborative effort to fast-track the production and ensure equitable access and distribution of vaccines. Countries will need more resources to surpass the 20% coverage targets set out by COVAX.

Additionally, the U.S. should fund programs that support local health systems in low-income countries. Vaccines don't save lives; vaccinations do. Health systems, inclusive of government and faith-based partners, require resources to meet the critical logistical, management, and community engagement needs such a massive new vaccine introduction requires.

What's more, the U.S. must continue to support ongoing health and nutrition programming. According to a recent World Health Organization study, 14 African countries have seen a more than 50% decline in critical health services since the start of the pandemic. Millions of children have not been vaccinated against routine deadly diseases. We must not let our guard down. Doing so could reverse decades of public health progress.  

Along with many other faith-based organizations and nonprofits, CRS is advocating that the administration and Congress include at least $20 billion for the global pandemic-related needs in the next COVID supplemental bill.  As Pope Francis said, 'This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic.'"  

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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CRS Online Press Room: www.crs.org/press-room

 

Tags: COVID-19
Nikki Gamer

Media Relations Manager

Nikki Gamer
February 1, 2021

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Media Relations Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement of...More