01:50 GMT24 January 2021
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    The Pope appointed Fabrizio Soccorsi as his personal medical assistant in 2015, after he opted not to renew the term for Patrizio Polisca, who at the time served both as the papal doctor and head of the Vatican's health services.

    Pope Francis’ personal doctor has died from COVID-19-related complications, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported.

    The 78-year-old physician, Fabrizio Soccorsi, died at Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where he was reportedly being treated for “oncological pathology” - something that wasn’t announced as the cause of his death, though.

    It’s unclear when he last had direct contact with the pontiff, who tapped Soccorsi as his personal physician in August 2015 after refusing to renew the term of longstanding Vatican Doctor Patrizio Polisca. The latter also doubled at the time as the head of the Vatican’s healthcare services at large.

    As Francis’ personal physician, Soccorsi, who specialised in the areas of hepatology, immunology, and the digestive system, accompanied the head of the Catholic Church on most of his international trips.

    On Saturday, the Pope announced plans to get a COVID-19 jab in the coming days as part of a vaccination programme at the Vatican.

    “I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine”, the Pope said in an interview with the TV station Canale 5.

    “It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others”, he contended.

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    Pope Francis, medicine, Pope
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