The UN health chief on Friday said that positive results from COVID-19 vaccine trials mean the world “can begin to dream about the end of the pandemic,” but he said rich and powerful nations must not ignore the poor and marginalized “in the stampede for vaccines.”

In an address to the UN general assembly’s session on the pandemic, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that while the virus can be stopped, “the path ahead remains deceitful.”

The pandemic has shown humanity at “its best and worst,” he said, pointing to “inspiring acts of compassion and self-sacrifice, breathtaking feats of science and innovation, and heartwarming demonstrations of solidarity, but also disturbing signs of self-interest, blame-shifting and divisions.”

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Referring to the current increase in infections and deaths, Tedros, without naming any countries, said that “where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is substituted with self-interest, the virus thrives, the virus spreads.”

In his virtual address, he warned that a vaccine “will not address the vulnerabilities that lie at its root” — poverty, hunger, inequality and climate change, which he said must be tackled once the pandemic ends.

“We cannot and we must not go back to the same exploitative patterns of production and consumption, the same disregard for the planet that sustains all life, the same cycle of panic and meddling and the same divisive politics that fuelled this pandemic,” he said.

On vaccines, Tedros said, “the light at the end of the tunnel is growing steadily brighter,” but vaccines “must be shared equally as global public goods, not as private commodities that widen inequalities and become yet another reason some people are left behind.”

Earlier, WHO warned people ‘vaccines do not equal zero Covid’ and asked governments and citizens not to drop their guard over the pandemic and urged people to follow all the virus SOPs.