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COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions
India’s Crisis; Seeking Distinctive Religious Responses

The focus continues on India as its huge COVID-19 wave carries on, with over 20 million cases reported to date. More reporting points to the Kumbh Mela as a superspreader event, with about 2,600 devotees testing positive out of the 200,000 tests administered during the event. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic and around the world, religious institutions in hard-hit areas are on the frontline of the response. One example in reporting last week was from a Sikh gurdwara in Ghaziabad city, Delhi. Khalsa Help International, founded by the president of the gurdwara, had been able to buy oxygen tanks and was providing oxygen to those arriving at the temple. As of last week, they had helped around 700 people, though some did not survive. 
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) survey on religious attitudes to COVID-19 vaccines received continued coverage last week, demonstrating the usefulness of quality survey information on religious attitudes and practices during the pandemic. The survey finds that faith-based approaches can be particularly persuasive for certain faith communities, furthering demonstrating the opportunities for health care providers to work with faith groups on vaccine rollout. But concerns about vaccination hesitancy and resistance in some communities remain, with officials noting particular concerns among Latino evangelicals, similar to findings from the PRRI and IFYC survey. 

Several religious studies researchers from around the world met to discuss the changes to religious practice, particularly moving online during the pandemic. The workshop is finished, but the full abstracts of all papers are available. Finally, more guidance materials on faith and vaccines are available. A guide from the Clinton Foundation gives a wide, if brief, overview of some of the main points to consider, including language to use that focuses on the positive, ethical duty towards humanity rather than the negative and conspiratorial.

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