In his weekly address on Sunday, Pope Francis called on countries to work together in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine, and to share vaccines worldwide when they reach the market, according to Reuters.
"In fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments," he said, according to Reuters.
He also called for "universal access to essential technologies that allow each infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary medical treatment."
Pope Francis also acknowledged the reality of the risk of domestic violence during quarantine, and asked for prayers that families "might persevere in peace with creativity and patience during this quarantine," according to Vatican News.
He also said on Twitter that the ongoing pandemic could be "a test case to prepare for our collective future."
A coronavirus vaccine would provide people with immunity to the virus, halting its spread. Countries including the UK and Canada have committed millions in funding for research for a COVID-19 vaccine, as have organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Vaccines in general are key for eliminating poverty and essential for achieving good health and well-being for all, which is one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
However, there are disparities in vaccine access. More than 20 million children reportedly missed out on vaccines in 2018 and 1.5 million people die every year from vaccine preventable diseases.