UN chief receives COVID-19 vaccine in New York

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in New York.

“I was fortunate and grateful to get the first dose of my #COVID19 vaccine today,” Guterres said on Twitter. “We must get to work to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere. With this pandemic, none of us are safe until all of us are safe,” he added.

Guterres expressed his gratitude and good fortune at receiving the jab and urged the international community to ensure that vaccines are available to everyone, on an equitable basis.

71-year-old Guterres was eligible to receive the vaccine on the basis of his age: New York residents over the age of 65 are included in the current phase of vaccinations in the city, which also includes school workers, first responders, public transit workers and grocery workers.

In December, Guterres declared that he would happily receive the vaccine in public, and said that, for him, vaccination is a moral obligation: “Each one of us provides a service to the whole community”, he said, “because there is no longer a risk of spreading the disease.”

Journalists and camera crews were invited to observe the UN chief receive his shot at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in The Bronx, a few miles uptown from UN Headquarters in New York. Many countries are seeing a significant proportion of their citizens expressing ‘vaccine hesitancy’.

UN regional offices have noted a significant level of mistrust and, in some countries, including Japan and several European nations, around half the population are reportedly unsure about getting a COVID-19 vaccine at this stage.