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World Health Organization warns virus crisis not over even as vaccine roll-out nears

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However, the WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan also cautioned on Friday against complacency in the wake of vaccine roll-out, saying that although they were a major part of the battle against Covid-19, vaccines would not on their own end the pandemic.

"But let me be clear, we simply can not accept a world in which the poor and marginalised are trampled by the rich and powerful in the stampede for COVID-19 vaccines", he said.

Meanwhile, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on Covid-19 response at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, also made it clear that the next six months is going to be hard but hopeful, and requires patience from all.

The WHO says 51 candidate vaccines are now being tested on humans, with 13 reaching final-stage mass testing.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said progress on vaccines signalled "light at the end of the tunnel".

The WHO has backed the COVAX global vaccines programme which seeks to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines and to date has seen 189 countries join.

"Vaccines and vaccination will add a major, major, powerful tool to the tool kit that we have".

On Wednesday, the British government authorized the use of a vaccine developed by United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. More than 45 million people have recovered.

"The pandemic still has a long a way to run and decisions made by leaders and citizens in the coming days will determine both the course of the virus in the short term and when this pandemic will ultimately end", said Tedros.

America's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended "universal face mask use" indoors, and Mr Biden said he would scale down his January inauguration ceremony to mitigate the virus risk.

Tedros had said earlier that would be happy to have a coronavirus vaccine, however, he said "I need to make sure it's my turn".

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