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Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.
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Just 2.2% of people in low-income countries, mostly in Africa, have received a single dose, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Of the over 6 billion vaccines given globally, just 2% have been administered in Africa, the World Health Organization said last month.
Driving the news: Moderna recently came under fire for not doing enough to vaccinate low-income countries.
The company has been supplying its vaccine almost exclusively to wealthy nations, the New York Times reported over the weekend.
The big picture: The longer it takes a country to vaccinate its population, the more likely it becomes that a new variant will undermine the efficacy of the vaccines, according to the World Health Assembly.
In September, the WHO said that just 15 out of 54 African countries had fully vaccinated 10% of their populations against COVID-19.
What he's saying: "Thinking about these situations (of exclusion and inequality), I make a pest of myself with my questions. And I go on asking. And I ask everyone in the name of God," Francis said while speaking to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, per Reuters.
"But the pope must not stop mentioning this teaching, even if it often annoys people, because what is at stake is not the pope but the Gospel," he said.
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