A Christian response is needed to address the inequities in global vaccine distribution
As global citizens and citizens of the Kingdom of God, we need to care for the vulnerable and least among us.
Canada’s population has now surpassed 50% of the total population being fully vaccinated; while the number of fully vaccinated people living in low-income countries sits at just 1%.
Canadian lives are beginning to return to normal but many of the world’s developing countries are facing a different reality.
After more than a year of restrictions – where family and loved ones were separated by social distancing, health, and the closing of the Canada-U.S. border – people are finally gathering together safely, making travel plans, and returning to work.
By the end of September, Canada will have 98 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – well above the amount needed to fully vaccinate every Canadian. In addition to this, Canada and other wealthy countries have secured millions of booster COVID-19 shots, and yet our global neighbours are being left behind.
Many African nations are currently in the deadliest wave of the pandemic. According to Our World in Data, only 1% of the 1.3 billion people living in Africa are fully vaccinated. This leaves Africa and other developing countries around the world to rely on COVAX a global collaboration to provide equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatment, and vaccines.
Canada needs a shift in perspective to remember that we are global citizens with a responsibility to care for our neighbours across oceans.
Earlier this year, Context’s Maggie John spoke with MP Karina Gould, Minister of International Affairs, as Canada was just beginning to implement the vaccine rollout.
“COVID-19 is a global pandemic, and so we need to fight COVID everywhere in the world to make sure that we are safe. When Canadians are thinking about getting back to normal, obviously they want these restrictions lifted, but they are also thinking about travel, they are thinking about business, they are thinking about visiting friends and family, either abroad or having them come here to visit. And You know if COVID-19 is raging in other parts of the world, but we are vaccinated here in Canada, some of those restrictions are going to be continuing. So in order for Canada to prosper, we are a trading nation, but also to do the things that we want to do, socially and for leisure, we need to make sure that the whole world has it under control.”
In a follow-up statement from Minister Gould this week, she said Canada has committed $2.5 billion in assistance for COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines and vaccinations at the global level and funding COVAX to deliver over 136 million vaccine doses in 136 countries. Minister Gould also said Canada is donating an extra 30 million doses from the estimated domestic surplus.
While the Canadian government is being generous now, it was a different story while trying to procure vaccines for their citizens. Canada was the only G7 nation to use their position within the COVAX initiative to secure vaccines before developing countries.
As Christians, we are part of a greater Kingdom, a Kingdom coming to earth that is not divided by borders or citizenships.
A Kingdom whose borders will never close but welcomes in people from every nation, race, and culture. We look forward to the perfect Kingdom of God coming to earth and we have a responsibility to care for those around the world now. As early church writers describe in Acts, Christians gave and shared with one another in everything. Every need was met by one another.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” – Acts 4:32-35
Right now, our world needs equitable vaccine distribution. We simply cannot settle for only people in wealthy countries to be vaccinated while developing nations continue to fight deadly waves of the pandemic.
As Canadian citizens, yes, we have reason to celebrate, embrace a return to a safe normal, and be near our loved ones after more than year of difficulty and sacrifice. But our work does not end here; as global citizens and citizens of the Kingdom of God, we need to care for the vulnerable and least among us.
Loving our global neighbours requires action from our government, politicians, churches and each and every person.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”- Matthew 25:40
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
WATCH: Maggie John and Minister Karina Gould on global vaccine distribution: