Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that it would take decades for the world to recover from the aftershocks of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic even if vaccines are quickly approved.

Opening a special UN summit on the virus, being held virtually as a safety precaution, Guterres hailed the quick scientific progress but cautioned that vaccination was not a panacea for the ills affecting the planet.

“Let’s not fool ourselves. A vaccine cannot undo the damage that will stretch across years, even decades to come,” Guterres said.

“Extreme poverty is rising; the threat of famine looms. We face the biggest global recession in eight decades,” he said.

He said Covid-19 — which has killed nearly 1.5 million people globally — had exacerbated other long-term challenges including inequality and climate change.

Leaders or senior officials from more than 100 countries will take part in the summit through short, pre-recorded speeches, but diplomats do not expect the virtual two-day gathering to lead immediately to major decisions.

Guterres reiterated his call that vaccines be considered a “global public good” that are shared around the world.

He also appealed for contributions to fill a $4.3-billion shortfall in financing the acquisition of vaccines over the next two months.

More than 180 countries have joined Covax, a global collaboration working with manufacturers to distribute vaccines equitably. SOVEREIGNPH

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