Medical experts prep for ethical distribution, while some church leaders preach against misinformation.
With outbreaks resurging around the world and—finally—a likely COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, Christian leaders are advocating for fair distribution to protect the neediest people and places, not just the richest.
But even among those committed to sharing resources to stop the virus, different strategies have emerged around which countries and which vulnerable places and populations to prioritize. Christians in the medical field have a crucial role to play in these conversations around the ethics of distribution, while church partners have already begun to speak up about the importance of vaccination for public health.
Countries like the US and the UK have invested in hundreds of millions of vaccine doses from pharmaceutical companies in a race to develop viable candidates—enough to thoroughly cover their population and then some. Canada has purchased enough doses to cover its population five times, according to a new analysis by Duke University researchers.
But once a viable vaccine is ready, who gets to be first in line for the protection offered by inoculation? While Americans consider making the vaccine available to populations such as health care workers and the elderly first, the poorest countries could be waiting years before they’re able to distribute doses at all. Limits in manufacturing capacity and investment could mean some places won’t offer the vaccine until 2024, according to the analysis.
“There are definitely very many concerns” about inaccessibility, said Elizabeth Bukusi, a researcher and bioethicist in Kenya who participates in the global COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition. “When you are a less-resourced country, you are even more concerned.”