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UN launches global push to accelerate production of virus vaccine

The UN on Friday joined forces with world leaders and the private sector on an initiative to speed up development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and ensure equal access for all.

“This is a landmark collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for COVID-19,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

“Our shared commitment is to ensure all people have access to all the tools to defeat COVID-19,” he said.

The event was co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It included UN chief Antonio Guterres as a speaker, as well as global leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Conspicuously absent were leaders from China, where the novel coronavirus first surfaced late last year, and from the United States—the country currently hardest-hit by the pandemic, with nearly 50,000 dead and close to 900,000 infected.

Worldwide, more than 190,000 people have died in the pandemic and more than 2.7 million have been infected.

“We face a global public enemy like no other,” Guterres told the briefing. “A world free of COVID-19 requires the most massive public health effort in history.”

He stressed the need to ensure that any diagnostic tests developed to detect the new virus, any drugs produced to treat it, and any vaccine made to prevent it should be provided to all of those in need.

“The world needs the development, production and equitable delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostics,” Guterres said.

“Not a vaccine or treatments for one country or one region or one-half of the world, but a vaccine and treatment that are affordable, safe, effective, easily-administered and universally available, for everyone, everywhere,” he said.

“None of us is safe until all of us are safe.

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