March 11th 2021 marked one year since the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic. The outbreak and resulting deaths continue. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has been tracking the outbreak since its beginning and so far more than three million people have died globally.
Statistics are changing daily. Most agree that America has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths so far. India is now second in line and Brazil is third. The UK has experienced the highest number of cases in Europe. The pandemic is now spreading wildly in Latin America, South Asia and Africa, all areas of the world where the poorest people live.
The pandemic has affected different countries in different ways and as usual the poorest countries and people suffer most. We have only to see the daily news reports from India to know just how terribly the poor suffer. We read that in most hospitals there are more dead people than live ones and that so many trees are being cut down for cremations now that normal supplies of wood have run out.
As countries able to do so vaccinate their populations the challenge of sharing the vaccines arises. Sharing may be by donating vaccines or by increasing aid, so that developing countries can buy and develop their own vaccines. See CAFOD’s statement on this issue at: https://cafod.org.uk/News/Press-office/Press-releases/interfaith-vaccine-statement It is sad that at such a time as this the British government is making a reduction in aid to the poorest countries, from 0.7% to 0.5%. See: https://cafod.org.uk/News/Campaigning-news/Overseas-aid-budget-cut
This is something we may all lobby about and seek to reverse.
Pope Frances, in his book, ‘Let us Dream,’ has said that those who risked their lives to bring care to people suffering from the virus are an example for us all as individuals, groups, churches and governments. He has set up a commission on the ‘Post Covid future,’ which he trusts will be new, outward looking and caring.
He writes of his hope that:
‘When the storm has passed we’ll envy no-one
for all of us have suffered
and we’ll not be idle, but more compassionate.’
Barbara Butler is Executive Secretary of Christians Aware, an ecumenical member of the NJPN. http://www.christiansaware.co.uk/