As COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramp up in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, and Denmark, the Baptist World Alliance on Friday (Jan. 29) called for equitable distribution of vaccines and the avoidance of “vaccine nationalism.” The BWA also urged Baptists around the world to support a statement by the BWA Forum for Aid and Development.
“Inequality has been exposed in a multitude of ways during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the BFAD statement reads. “Our solemn plea is that the global vaccination plan would be a near-unprecedented model for global human equality.”
“We do not wish to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of injections that children in the global community fail to receive for generations to come,” the statement adds. “The slower the global rollout of the vaccine, the more lives will be lost. We know this will continue to cripple families, businesses, and societies around the world. No one should be stopped from accessing treatments or vaccines because of where they live, what they can afford, their race, or their convictions of faith and conscience.
While vaccination efforts in countries like the U.S. could reach necessary numbers to slow the coronavirus in just months, some countries aren’t currently expected to see much vaccination until next year or longer.
Urging “strong international cooperation,” BFAD called on governments and the private sector to “support worldwide collective efforts to eradicate the pandemic and produce vaccines for all on a fair and equitable basis.”
Condemning “vaccine nationalism,” BFAD notes wealthier nations have already purchased billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccinations and that the U.S. and China have not signed onto the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative designed to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“We specifically call on the United States, including USA-based Baptists, to press for the United States to deliver on their intent to join COVAX,” BFAD’s statement reads.
“We call on faith leaders and governments to recognize the important role faith communities can play as civil society enablers, capable of mobilizing people for vaccination and hosting vaccination hubs in their buildings and community gatherings,” the statement adds. “Moreover, as many unhelpful myths and misinformation abound in regard to COVID-19’s various vaccines, trusted faith leaders are also capable of dissuading these destructive narratives and building cooperation with national vaccination programs.”
Initial signers of the BFAD statement include Baptist leaders in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, and United States. The BWA encourages other Baptists to add their names.
Elijah Brown, BWA general secretary, said about the statement and petition, “We stand together both in prayerful lament for the many who have been impacted by this disease but also in hopeful expectation that we can make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable by choosing equity and justice at this crucial time.”