In a joint statement, the groups said some vaccine reluctance in poorer countries is rooted in historical inequalities and suspicions of Western pharmaceutical companies. But they said “a more pernicious form” of hesitancy is being driven by fake news, myths and disinformation about vaccine safety, including among religious groups and some in the medical community.
The statement also repeated calls from the Vatican and the medical establishment for vaccine equity, to make sure the poorest nations have the same access to shots as wealthier ones.
At a news conference Friday, representatives of the groups strongly rejected claims and questions about vaccine safety and ethics from reporters representing conservative and right-wing Catholic media organizations who complained that vaccine skeptics weren’t included among the speakers.
“We are physicians. We represent physicians. And we are bound to science and to evidence-based medicine,” said Dr. Ramin Parsa-Parsi, head of international affairs for the German Medical Association.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, for his part, noted that both his bioethics academy and the Vatican’s doctrine office have declared COVID-19 vaccines safe, effective and ethical. Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops, have claimed vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses were immoral.