United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the loss of 1 million people to the coronavirus is an agonising milestone" that has been made worse by the savageness of this disease".
In a statement released after the global death toll from the pandemic crossed 1 million, Guterres called it a mind-numbing figure".
They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues, he said.
The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease. Risks of infection kept families from bedsides. And the process of mourning and celebrating a life was often made impossible.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Guterres warned there is no end in sight to the spread of the virus, the loss of jobs, the disruption of education, the upheaval to our lives.
Still, he said, the pandemic could be overcome with responsible leadership, cooperation and science, as well as precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks.
He said any vaccine must be available and affordable to all.