Pope Francis' personal doctor, Fabrizio Soccorsi, dies of COVID-19 complications

Pope Francis and Fabrizio Soccorsi

The Vatican's newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, reported that the Pope's personal doctor, Fabrizio Soccorsi, has died at the age of 78. Chosen as the pontiff's personal medic in 2015, he was hospitalised on Boxing Day for a previous oncological disease.

It is, however, not clear when the doctor was last in direct contact with the Pope, CNN reports.

As the Pope's 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.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis said on Saturday he planned to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as early as next week and urged everyone to get a shot, to protect not only their own lives but those of others.

Home to about 450 people including the Pope, the Vatican is the smallest independent country in the world. The country will soon launch its own vaccination campaign against the coronavirus.

"Next week, we will start doing it here, in the Vatican, and I have booked myself in. It must be done." the Pope said.

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