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WHO Chief Says Vaccine Alone Will Not End the Pandemic

FILE - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, attends a session on the coronavirus outbreak response of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 5, 2020. (Reuters)

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday a working vaccine alone will not end the coronavirus pandemic, and communities and individuals must still be engaged.

The comments come as U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in late-stage trials.

Speaking remotely to WHO’s executive board, Tedros said it is important to emphasize that a vaccine will complement other tools, not replace them.

Tedros said that once a vaccine is given final approval and is ready to be distributed, supplies will initially be limited. He said health care workers, older people and other at-risk populations will be prioritized, which hopefully will reduce deaths and ease the strain on health systems.

“That will still leave the virus with a lot of room to move,” he said.

He added that there will still be a need for testing, contact tracing and isolation. Communities and individuals will need to be stay engaged and continue to use precautions.

Tedros called on WHO’s executive board — made up of senior health officials from all member nations — to play a role in making sure nations continue following COVID-19 precautions and let the agency know how they can support them.

As of Monday, the organization reported more than 54 million total cases and 1.3 million deaths worldwide, according to date from Johns Hopkins University.

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