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UN chief Antonio Guterres receives COVID-19 vaccine

Guterres, 71, received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine at a New York City public school Thursday. Guterres gestured to make a victory sign as he was administered the shot.

January 29, 2021 / 11:01 AM IST
File image: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

File image: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and appealed to people to get vaccinated as soon as they can while stressing that nations must ensure the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere.

Guterres, 71, received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine at a New York City public school Thursday. Guterres gestured to make a victory sign as he was administered the shot.

My appeal is for all to take profit of the opportunities that exist and be vaccinated as soon as they can, he said, adding that it is important for everybody, everywhere to be vaccinated.

In a tweet, he said, I was fortunate and grateful to get the first dose of my #COVID19 vaccine today. We must get to work to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere. With this pandemic, none of us is safe until all of us are safe.

The NYC Mayor's Office for International Affairs said in a tweet that as a New Yorker who is over 65 years of age, the UN Secretary-General received his COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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He secured his appointment online and received the vaccine at the Adlai Stevenson High School in The Bronx, named after the 5th US Ambassador to the UN and who in 1945 had served on the committee that created the United Nations.

New York residents over the age of 65 are included in the current phase of vaccinations in the city, which also include school workers, first responders, public transit workers and grocery workers.

In December last year, Guterres had said he intended to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it became available and that he would do so publicly.

Of course, I intend to receive the vaccine when it becomes available for me in whatever the situation that will be justified for that. And, obviously, I will have no doubt in doing it publicly, Guterres had said.

He had encouraged everybody who got access to the vaccine to be vaccinated, saying it was a service not only to ourselves but to the whole community because there is no longer a risk of spreading the disease.

"Vaccination is for me a moral obligation in relation to all of us, he had said.

Guterres had outlined his 10 priorities for 2021 in an address to the UN General Assembly earlier in the day.

These priorities also include response to COVID-19.

During a press briefing in the day, he said among the challenges the world faces is the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19.

Guterres termed vaccine nationalism as an economic as well as moral failure.

While every country has the right and the duty to protect its own people, no country can afford to neglect the rest of the world, he said, adding that nations must close the funding gap; ramp-up vaccine production by making licenses widely available and sharing technology; and get doses into the arms of all who need them.

We need a global vaccination campaign to deal with a global pandemic, he said.

first published: Jan 29, 2021 10:52 am