COVID-19 ‘Greatest Challenge of Our Age’, UN Chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gestures during an interview with Reuters, in Lisbon, Portugal, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Monday the coronavirus pandemic as “the greatest challenge of our age”. He also said it’s still unclear when we will have effective treatments or vaccines against the disease.

In a virtual address to the World Health Organization’s decision-making body; Guterres echoed the WHO’s repeated calls for global solidarity. He said: “we are all paying a heavy price” for the sometimes contradictory national responses to the pandemic.

“Many countries have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” he said. “As a result, the virus spread across the world and is now moving into the global south; where its impact may be even more devastating and we are risking further spikes and waves.”

Guterres said it was a “false dichotomy” to assume governments would be choosing between saving their citizens or their economies.

“Unless we control the spread of the virus, the economy will never recover,” he warned.

The European Medicines Agency’s executive director said Monday a vaccine for the COVID-19 disease won’t be available soon. That even when one is ready, production won’t be sufficient to offer protection to the entire world’s population.

Guido Rasi said in a session with European lawmakers that a vaccine against the deadly virus is one year away at best.

Even then, Rasi said there won’t be enough doses for the entire population. He said a coordinated approach at the European level will be key to identifying those who will benefit the most from the vaccine.

“We will need to have one holistic model to create the first ring of defense in the general population,” he said.