The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that a coronavirus vaccine would not by itself stop the pandemic. While speaking at the WHO’s governing body, the World Health Assembly, Tedros said that a vaccine will complement the other tools that the world has, and not replace them. He also added that a vaccine on its own will “not end the pandemic.”
The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has been raging for months now, with infections soaring past 54 million and claiming over 1.3 million lives. The UN agency on Saturday also noted that nearly 660,905 cases were reported, setting a new high watermark. A day before, 645,410 cases were also registered, surpassing the previous daily record high of 614,013 recorded on November 7.
With the virus spreading rapidly across the globe, Tedros said that supplies of the vaccine would initially be restricted, with health workers, older people and other at-risk populations to be prioritised. He added that the vaccine restriction will hopefully reduce the number of deaths and enable the health systems to cope.
The WHO chief, however, warned saying, “That will still leave the virus with a lot of room to move. Surveillance will need to continue, people will still need to be tested, isolated and cared for, contacts will still need to be traced... and individuals will still need to be cared for”.
During the same remarks, Tedros also highlighted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine breakthrough that was announced last week by the American pharmaceutical company when it revealed that the interim data shows its mRNA-based vaccine is 90% effective. The WHO chief said that he had “no doubt” that vaccines were a vital tool for controlling the widespread of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19 but he also acknowledged that the world still has a “long way to go”.
“Never in history has vaccine research progressed so quickly. We must apply the same urgency and innovation to ensuring that all countries benefit from this scientific achievement,” he said.
“But we have a long way to go. The world cannot put all its eggs in one basket and neglect the many other tools at our disposal, that countries like Thailand have shown are effective, for bringing this virus under control,” Tedros added.