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Pope Francis. Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis said in his Christmas Day message that coronavirus vaccines should be made available to everyone at no charge, and that nations should work together as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The state of play: Because of Italy's restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Catholic Church leader delivered the traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) speech from the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, instead of from a balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square to a usually large crowd.

  • “At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters,” Francis said, per the AP.

What he's saying: "Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty during the pandemic, different lights of hope appear, like the discovery of the vaccines ... they must be available to everyone," the pope said, according to CNN.

  • "I beg all those in charge of states, of companies, of international bodies ... to promote cooperation and not competition and to seek a solution for everyone, vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy in all regions of the globe."
  • The pope called for generosity and support toward people who are experiencing hardships during the pandemic, including unemployment and domestic violence.

Go deeper

Scammers have stolen over $130 million in coronavirus-related schemes

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Over 100,000 Americans have collectively reported roughly $132 million in fraud losses from scams related to the coronavirus and government stimulus checks since the March start of the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Coronavirus-related fraud complaints peaked in May when the IRS began sending its first round of stimulus checks. Congress recently proposed a second round of stimulus.

AAPI leaders praise order on discrimination but say Biden needs to do more to "prioritize" community

President Biden on the left. Rep. Judy Chu on the right. Photos: Doug Mills-Pool (left) and Paul Morigi/WireImage for The Recording Academy (right) via Getty

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) lawmakers, community organizers and advocacy groups commended President Biden's Tuesday order directing an examination of anti-Asian bias and discrimination, but pushed the administration to commit to stronger action.

Why it matters: Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged since the pandemic began, reaching more than 2,500 in August according to Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative that tracks anti-AAPI racism.