Publish: 17 Nov 2020, 11:58 am
The chief of the World Health Organization hailed "encouraging news on Covid-19 vaccinations on Monday, but expressed concern about increasing cases in several nations and stressed that complacency was not a choice.
“We continue to receive encouraging news about Covid-19 vaccines and remain cautiously optimistic about the potential for new tools to start to arrive in the coming months,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press briefing, reports BSS.
But he added: “This is no time for complacency.”
After a second candidate vaccine was found to be almost 95 percent successful in an ongoing trial, his remarks came as global expectations of solving the coronavirus pandemic were raised.
The US biotech company Moderna's news brought much-needed hope to a world facing increasing infections and gruelling new constraints.
It came after similar findings for a vaccine candidate developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were revealed last week.
But the WHO has cautioned that the universal availability of any vaccine remains a long way off even as many parts of the world are witnessing Covid-19 cases and deaths.
“This is a dangerous virus, which can attack every system in the body,” said Tedros. “Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire.”
Vaccine alone ‘won’t end pandemic’
Globally, infections have soared past 54 million with more than 1.3 million deaths, and experts caution there are still difficult and dangerous months ahead.
“A vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic,” Tedros warned earlier Monday.
During the evening press conference, he said WHO was “extremely concerned by the surge in cases we’re seeing in some countries”.
He voiced particular alarm about the situation in Europe and the Americas, where health workers and systems “are being pushed to the breaking point”.
“Health workers on the frontlines have been stretched for months. They are exhausted,” he warned.
“We must do all we can to protect them, especially during this period when the virus is spiking and patients are filling hospital beds.”
Tedros insisted that countries had “no excuse for inaction.
“A laissez-faire attitude to the virus — not using the full range of tools available — leads to death, suffering and hurts livelihoods and economies,” he said.
“It’s not a choice between lives or livelihoods. The quickest way to open up economies is to defeat the virus.”