Emerging Research and Vaccination as a Public Good
Now that we are many months into the pandemic, journal articles with original research are beginning to emerge. A group of researchers from American universities innovatively applied game theory to questions about socio-behavioral changes among churchgoers
. Although this is a theoretical rather than empirical article (published open access in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
), they reach some interesting conclusions, including the notion that although stopping church gathering has had the undeniable positive effect of limiting the spread of COVID-19, the surrounding effects on church members will have long-term implications on social ties within congregations and the social capital provided by those ties.
Another journal article of interest
, also open access and published in Religions
, reports on the work of Pastoral da Pessoa Idosa, a voluntary group linked to the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. They conducted empirical research - a survey of 3,888 of the Pastoral’s volunteers - to understand how the group had responded during the coronavirus. Findings demonstrate that the volunteers had “redirected their energies towards dealing with the challenges of the lockdown, from the offering of practical help (food, protective equipment) to COVID-related advice and guidance, to organizing or participating in volunteer groups to make PPE or collect and distribute food and protective materials.” The authors suggest that this shows that such volunteer groups should be considered crucial supports in any future response.
Noting events from the week before, reports last week highlighted the increased focus on the COVID-19 vaccine - with religious leaders urging members of the United Nations to lead on the matter and United Nations agencies in turn urging religious leaders to join efforts to make the vaccine a worldwide public good. Another report highlighting the Interfaith HIV/AIDS Conference
, which took place from September 22 to 24, 2020, picks up on urgings from Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, to support the COVID-19 vaccine. Her call at the conference: “I urge you religious leaders. You know more than anybody else. Your religions cut across countries and regions. Use your moral voice and join a coalition that is growing, demanding a people’s vaccine. That any vaccine that’s produced is a global public good.”
Pope Francis addressed the United Nations'
75th anniversary event and underlined that COVID-19 has become a crossroads for the world, the result of which must not be the rise of nationalism. The Pope reiterated his message that the COVID-19 vaccine must be available to “to the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources.”
Finally, while we aim to bring you the most up-to-date stories, we also find some stories that are worth highlighting that we missed earlier. From August, a case study from Religions for Peace
(RfP) details the work of the Interreligious Committee for Refugees and Migrants (CIREMI),
which is a member of the Interreligious Council of Peru. Through RfP’s Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund launched for coronavirus response, CIREMI has been able to provide 416 migrant families in Peru with food and hygiene kits, as well as cash assistance for rent payments.