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UN chief Antonio Guterres urges 'global vaccination plan' for COVID-19

"The world urgently needs a global vaccination plan to bring together all those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities," Antonio Guterres told a high-level Security Council meeting on vaccines.

February 17, 2021 / 07:28 PM IST
File image General Antonio Guterres

File image General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for a global plan to vaccinate against COVID-19, warning that inequities in initial efforts risked both the world's health and economy.

Opening a special Security Council session on vaccines held at the level of foreign ministers, Guterres warned that just 10 nations have administered 75 percent of the doses so far -- and 130 countries have had no vaccinations at all.

"The world urgently needs a global vaccination plan to bring together all those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities," Guterres told the virtual meeting.

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He said the Group of 20 major economies was in the best position to set up a task force on financing and implementation of global vaccinations and offered full support of the United Nations.

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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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"If the virus is allowed to spread like wildfire in the Global South, it will mutate again and again. New variants could become more transmissible, more deadly and, potentially, threaten the effectiveness of current vaccines and diagnostics," Guterres said.

"This can prolong the pandemic significantly, enabling the virus to come back to plague the Global North."

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP

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