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