This photo has been used for illustrative purpose only.
A COVID-19 vaccine may be the only thing that can bring back "normalcy," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday, hoping for just that before the end of the year.
"A safe and effective vaccine may be the only tool that can return the world to a sense of 'normalcy,' saving millions of lives and countless trillions of dollars," he added during a video conference with the 50 or so African countries that are members of the United Nations.
He called for its accelerated development and accessibility to all, adding it must have a "universal global benefit" and "allow us to control the pandemic."
"We need an ambitious effort to ensure that international stakeholders operate through a harmonized, integrated and leveraged approach to maximize the speed and scale needed for the universal deployment of such a vaccine by the end of 2020," he insisted.
Guterres said his appeal on March 25 for $2 billion in donations for a comprehensive UN humanitarian response to the pandemic had so far raised about 20 percent of that amount.
Through the World Health Organization, the United Nations has been able to equip 47 African countries with COVID-19 tests, he said.
The UN chief also praised the efforts of several African governments to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.
He cited Uganda, which has given businesses more time to file their tax returns; Namibia, which provides emergency income for workers who have lost their jobs; Cape Verde, which provides food aid; and Egypt, which has reduced taxation on industries.
A year into the pandemic, infection rates are falling. Hospitals are quieter; morgues are emptier. Emboldened by vaccines, we’re dropping our masks and stepping closer. Slowly we’re reopening indoor dining, theaters, museums and schools.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are among Asia's poorest nations by GDP per capita. In total, the World Bank had provided $12 billion for developing countries to procure and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.
Several European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations as Germany and Italy announced they were using the jab again as of Friday.
Cases have fallen steadily in some Indian states hit by an initial surge in infections, such as the richest state of Maharashtra and the capital New Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns. Testing rates also at their lowest since Sunday.
The NCOC late last month announced a new set of restrictions including a blanket ban on tourism and inter-provincial transport in an attempt to contain a further rise in already mounting coronavirus cases under the "Stay Home, Stay Safe” strategy.
Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Hamad engaged in cordial talk on the development journey the UAE is going through. They recalled the role of the founding leaders to enhance the country's global stature.
The Associated Press said on Saturday it was "shocked and horrified" by an Israeli airstrike that destroyed a building housing the US news agency's Gaza bureau and those of other international news media. The White House said it has cautioned Israel about the importance of protecting independent media.