(Reuters) – The world’s most famous statue of Jesus Christ was lit up in Rio de Janeiro to promote vaccine equality as Brazil and developing countries struggle to protect residents from COVID-19.
The message “Vaccine saves, United for vaccines” was projected on Saturday onto the 98-foot (30-meter) statue by Unidos Pela Vacina (United by the Vaccine), in partnership with the Cristo Redentor Sanctuary and the Ogilvy Brazil advertising agency.
In January, two healthcare workers received the first shots of coronavirus vaccines at the foot of the statue as Brazil kicked off its vaccination campaign.
Since then, 17% of residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and 8% have been fully vaccinated.
The country ranks 30th in the world based on first doses given and far behind the 59% in Israel and 47% in the United States, according to a Reuters analysis.
New cases of COVID-19 are once again rising in Brazil and infections are at 82% of the peak the country hit in March, according to a Reuters analysis.
In May 2020, the statue was lit up to call for wearing masks to slow the progress of the pandemic. Brazil has reported the third-highest number of cases in the world and the second-highest number of deaths, with over 435,000 lives lost.
(Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)