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Pope urges coronavirus vaccine access for all

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has called on world leaders to ensure unfettered access to coronavirus vaccines for everyone.

In a Christmas Day address delivered online for the first time, the pontiff warned against putting up “walls” to treatments.

The pandemic meant this year the annual Urbi et Orbi message was not presented from the balcony at St Peter’s Basilica to huge crowds, as is tradition.

Instead the Pope spoke from a lectern in a chamber inside the Vatican.

Pope Francis’ warning comes amid concerns that wealthier countries are buying up disproportionate doses of vaccines to the detriment of poorer ones.

“May the Son of God renew in political and government leaders a spirit of international cooperation, starting with health care, so that all will be ensured access to vaccines and treatment,” he said.

“In the face of a challenge that knows no borders, we cannot erect walls. All of us are in the same boat.”

The Pope said the effects of the health crisis showed the need for global unity was greater than ever.

“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters.”

The pontiff called for generosity and support to victims of the pandemic, singling out women suffering domestic violence during lockdown.

Turning to other troubles in the world, the Pope called for peace and reconciliation in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and Iraq.

He is due to visit Iraq in March in what would be the first such trip to the war-torn country by a pontiff.

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