The Vatican’s Academy of Bioethics and the World Medical Association called on Friday to do everything possible to combat vaccine hesitation and correct “myths and misinformation” that are slowing down the fight against the coronavirus.
In a joint statement, the groups said some vaccine reluctance in poor countries is rooted in historical disparities and suspicions of Western pharmaceutical companies. But he added that “a more harmful form” of hesitation is being driven by fake news, myths and propaganda about vaccine safety, involving religious groups and some medical communities.
They demanded that “all concerned stakeholders end all efforts to counter vaccine hesitation by sending a clear message about the safety and necessity of vaccines and counteracting vaccine myths and propaganda.”
The statement also called for repeated calls from the Vatican and the medical establishment for vaccine equity, to ensure that the poorest countries have the same access to shots as the rich.
It was released after a day-long webinar on vaccines sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, the France-based World Medical Association, an international organization grouping national physicians’ associations and individual doctors, and the German Medical Association.
At a news conference on Friday, representatives of the groups strongly rejected claims and questions about vaccine safety and ethics from journalists representing conservative and right-wing Catholic media organizations, who complained that vaccine skeptics were being shunned by speakers. was not included.
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“We are physicians. We represent physicians. And we are bound by science and evidence-based medicine,” said Dr. Ramin Persa-Parsi, head of international affairs at the German Medical Association.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, for his part, noted that both his Academy of Bioethics and the Vatican’s Doctrine Office have declared COVID-19 vaccines safe, effective and ethical. Some Catholics, including some Orthodox American bishops, have claimed vaccines based on research that the use of cells obtained from aborted fetuses was immoral.
But the Congress for Doctrine of Faith said in December that it was “ethically acceptable” to take vaccines using cell lines from aborted embryos when others are not available. The Pontifical Academy for Life has said there was a “moral responsibility” for vaccination, though no obligation, and Pope Francis has condemned the “suicidal prohibitionism” of those who refuse to get COVID-19 shots.