WATCH: Rio De Janeiro’s Christ The Redeemer Statue Lit Up With Vaccine Message

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Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up on Saturday with a message advocating for equal access to coronavirus vaccines in Brazil and around the world.

The words “Vaccine Saves” and the same phrase in Portuguese, “Vacina Salva,” were projected onto Brazil’s famous landmark over the weekend, a message promoting equal access to coronavirus vaccines as developing countries struggle to obtain enough doses.

Beneath the main message on the statue shone the Portuguese phrase “unidos pela vacina,” which is translated as “united by the vaccine,” the name of an initiative of the Mulheres do Brasil Group, a human rights group focused on women in Brazil. The logos of the initiative and parent group were also displayed. In photos and videos of the illuminated landmark, a group of people can be seen posing wearing t-shirts with the same slogan.

The “united by the vaccine” project describes itself as “a civil society movement that brings together hundreds of entities, companies, associations and NGOs, united for a single purpose: to make it possible to vaccinate all Brazilians until September 2021.”

Last year, the statue was lit up as a doctor with a medical coat and stethoscope and the words “thank you” on Easter Sunday to honor healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Brazil set up a vaccination station under the Redeemer statue, where residents can receive the Chinese-made CoronaVac shot on a hill overlooking Rio de Janeiro.

Other religious landmarks around the world have been converted into vaccine stations as well, including several British cathedrals including the 800-year-old Salisbury Cathedral. In the U.S., churches across the country have offered their spaces as pop-up sites for vaccination drives.

Brazil is one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, seeing more than 15.6 million cases of the coronavirus, according to data from state governments. More than 435,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the country as of Sunday evening. Brazil has 211 million people.

Last month, Brazil recorded a national record of more than 4,200 deaths in a single day as it fought to control the spread of a more contagious variant of the virus.

“The acceleration of the epidemic in various states is leading to the collapse of their public and private hospital systems, which may soon become the case in every region of Brazil,” Brazil’s national association of health secretaries wrote in March in a statement. “Sadly, the anemic rollout of vaccines and the slow pace at which they’re becoming available still does not suggest that this scenario will be reversed in the short term.”

The nation’s 27 health secretaries recommended lockdowns in areas where no ICU beds are available as well as a strict curfew. The secretaries blamed a “lack of coherent and unified national leadership in the reaction to the pandemic.”

As of Sunday, the U.S. has reported nearly 33 million cases of the coronavirus, and more than 585,000 people have died.

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