India’s Catholic priests, religious line up for vaccination after more than 400 deaths

At least 400 priests and nuns have died in India due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year

Catholic priests and religious in the western Indian state of Goa are lining up for vaccination to show people that there is nothing to fear about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.

“The Church is not against the vaccine. Faith and science always go together,” said Father Eugene D’Silva, rector of the Redemptorist seminary in Varca, in an interview with Matters India.

“I took the vaccine the moment the announcement was made that it was available for the under-60 age group,” said the priest.

Father Simon D’Meelo, a school principal, said “God himself has given us the vaccine for protection, and he has to do this through humans.”

“If people are waiting for God, He is already telling them that the vaccine is here, and to protect yourselves,” said the priest.

As of end of May, at least 400 priests and nuns have died in India due to COVID-19. The number could be higher as some casualties were not reported.

Among those who died of the disease were Archbishop Antony Anandarayar of Pondicherry-Cuddalore, Bishop Basil Bhuriya of Jhabua, and retired Bishop Joseph Pastor Neelankavil of Sagar of the Syro-Malabar rite.

The death toll came from 98 dioceses and 106 religious congregations across the country.

Most of those who died were exposed to the disease due to their work in communities most affected by the pandemic.

India has reported more than 30 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic last year.

Government data showed there were 50,848 infections recorded over a 24-hour period on June 23, bringing the total reported cases to 30.02 million. The reported daily death toll was 1,358.

The United States is the only country in the world that has reported more cases than India.

India suffered a devastating second wave when reported coronavirus cases spiked between February and early May. It left hospitals overwhelmed and medical necessities like oxygen and medicines in short supply. – with a report from Matters India

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