NEARLY two-thirds of people in the UK believe that the Covid-19 vaccination should be rolled out equally around the world, and that poorer countries should be given equal access to the vaccines, a new survey suggests.
The survey, published on Monday, found that 63 per cent of respondents agreed that the vaccine programme should not favour richer developed countries. Only 11 per cent disagreed.
The survey was carried out for Christian Aid by Savanta ComRes: 2119 UK adults were questioned online earlier this month, and the resulting responses were weighted to represent the population.
It also found that 66 per cent of respondents wanted the UK Government to put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to help a faster rollout by making the vaccine formula available.
Christian Aid has formed a partnership with the diocese of Gloucester to encourage people who have been vaccinated to “pay it forward” by donating to Christian Aid’s coronavirus appeal.
A similar campaign, set up by the Rector of St Andrew’s, Curry Rivel, in Somerset, has raised more than £20,000. The “Twin my vaccine” campaign, set up on the donation site Just Giving by the Revd Scott Patterson, encourages those who have been given a free vaccine to donate towards one for people in the world’s poorest communities. It beat its initial target of £1000 and raised £20,000 in the first two weeks. The money raised will go to UNICEF’s Covid-19 appeal, to deliver vaccines around the world.
Mr Patterson said: “There is a lot of pent-up generosity in my congregation and beyond, and a feeling of not being able to do much to help. The love of our neighbour is a global calling, after all. Those who have been given their first shot of the vaccine are so grateful for it, they want to help others.”
In neighbouring Backwell, also in the diocese of Bath & Wells, parishioners are responding to a “Buy One Give One Free” appeal to donate the cost of their vaccine, which varies from £4 to £30.
The Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, said: “The global perspective can sometimes get overlooked amidst all the pressing needs around us; however, your actions demonstrate God’s loving generosity to all.
“It really is important that we don’t allow our own anxieties for our nation to become one that gets caught up in a selfish response without concern for others around the world. If we are truly going to beat the virus then we need to pay attention to those who are even more vulnerable than ourselves.”
The UK announced this week that it had met its goal of giving at least one shot of a vaccine to the most vulnerable people in the UK, although vaccine take-up is still low among ethnic-minorites. In a recent survey, 48 per cent of people from an ethnic minority said that they were reluctant to be vaccinated, although more than half said that they would be willing if they knew that it was safe.
Grace Penn-Timity, a Methodist nurse who works in A&E, said that she was urging friends and relatives to get vaccinated, and was working to combat misinformation about the vaccine. “I talk to my fellow ethnic-minority people. . . You know how difficult it is to lose somebody. To die on your own with no friends or family around, it’s even worse.”
The Prime Minister has said that he will unveil his “roadmap” for lifting restrictions on 22 February.
The Christian charity the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, which runs care homes, said that the vaccine rollout had brought “hope” to staff, but the Government must ensure that guidance for any lifting of restrictions was given in good time to help the sector prepare, and not raise expectations for relatives immediately.
Victoria Stone, the coronavirus lead for the charity, said: “We hope the roadmap will include timely guidance for care homes, so we can be as prepared as possible. Since the pandemic began, we’ve often received guidance the night before the changes are due to be implemented, or on a Friday for a Monday rollout. This understandably creates an immediate expectation among relatives for changes, when in reality we need more time to put the necessary procedures in place.
“We also would welcome news on the Infection Control Fund, which helps facilitate things like safe indoor visits, as this is due to run out in March. And, finally, we hope to hear news on when we can look forward to hairdressers and other volunteers returning, as these are both great morale-boosters for residents.”
Five churches in the Midlands have been awarded grants from the Culture Recovery Fund to help fund urgent repairs during the pandemic. St Peter’s, Rous Lench, in Worcestershire, receives one of the biggest sums — £25,000 — to stop water seeping through a damaged roof.
A poetry competition in praise of key workers during the pandemic has been launched by three UK poets and a Christian cleaning company. The collaboration asks for poems — written or spoken — to celebrate key workers, from cleaners and delivery drivers to shop and care workers.
For information, visit poetryforgood.org.uk