VATICAN CITY, HOLY SEE -- The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating inequalities between rich and poor, Pope Francis said on Wednesday, calling for universal vaccines not reserved just for the wealthiest.

As the virus continues to claim lives and wreak havoc on economies around the world, the Pope in recent months has tried to use all his moral force to demand a new post-pandemic society, more respectful of the poor and the environment.

The call for social justice is a familiar theme sounded by the leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics around the world, who witnessed poverty and a crippling economic crisis first hand at home in Argentina.

"It would be sad if, for the vaccine for Covid-19, priority were to be given to the richest," said Francis during his traditional Wednesday audience broadcast live from his private Vatican library.

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