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World

Pope Francis, ex-pope Benedict get virus vaccines: Vatican

  • Media reports suggested Pope Francis received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which was authorised for use in the European Union on December 21.
14 Jan 2021

VATICAN CITY: Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, former pope Benedict XVI, have received the coronavirus vaccine, the Vatican said on Thursday.

"I can confirm that, as part of the Vatican City State vaccination programme to date, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

It had already been reported that Francis, 84, had received the jab on Wednesday, the first day of the Vatican's vaccination drive, but officials declined to confirm the news.

The Vatican News portal said Benedict, 93, was given a dose on Thursday morning.

The former pontiff, who stepped down in 2013 and now lives in a converted monastery in the Vatican gardens, is increasingly frail.

In an interview broadcast at the weekend, Francis urged people to get the vaccine.

"There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated," he told Canale 5.

The Argentine is known for his love of being among his flock and has often been pictured without a mask.

But he has limited his interaction with the public since the virus first swept Italy early last year.

There were concerns about how he would cope if he became infected, given both his age and his history of lung problems.

The pope almost died when he was 21 after developing pleurisy, according to biographer Austen Ivereigh, which caused him to have part of one of his lungs removed.

He recalled the incident in a recent book, "Let Us Dream", saying: "I have some sense of how people with coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators."

Media reports suggested Pope Francis received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which was authorised for use in the European Union on December 21.