UN chief: Only a COVID-19 vaccine will enable return to 'normalcy'

A COVID-19 vaccine could be the only factor that may deliver "normalcy" again, United Nations (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 noted during a video conference with the 50 or so African countries that are members of the UN.

"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," said Guterres.

Guterres said his appeal on March 25 for two billion U.S. dollars 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 UN has been able to equip 47 African countries with COVID-19 tests, he said.

The UN chief additionally praised the efforts of a number of African governments to mitigate the results of the pandemic.

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(With input from agencies)