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Over 11 bln doses needed to vaccinate 70 pct of world against COVID-19: UN chief

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Over 11 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses are needed to fully inoculate around 70 percent of the world against the novel coronavirus, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

At the first International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation held on Thursday, Guterres said that vaccines must reach everyone everywhere “as quickly as possible” in a renewed push to vaccinate the world to avoid the emergence of new and more infectious variants of the virus.

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“This is a matter of fairness and justice – but it’s also crucial to avoid the emergence of further variants that can resist the current vaccines and undermine national vaccination efforts,” said Guterres, at the inaugural gathering.

In reference to the 11 billion vaccine shots, Guterres said that it was going to “take the largest public health effort in history” to achieve the goal which he deemed “a key threshold to ending the acute phase of this pandemic.”

“We also need an Emergency Task Force – at the G20 level – to coordinate its implementation,” he said.

He added that the world’s vaccine manufacturing capacity will need to be doubled and that they will need to ensure equitable distribution under the vaccine supply initiative COVAX, which is co-led by Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It will also require strengthening and building local production capacities across the world to address supply chain bottlenecks, he said.

Guterres also welcomed the recently signed agreements under COVAX for the provision of Chinese vaccines such as Sinovac and Sinopharm, saying that the deal had the potential to unlock supplies of more than 500 million doses.

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