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UN chief says pandemic toll of 1 million is ‘mind-numbing’

As global death toll crosses grim milestone, Guterres stresses need for cooperation, affordable vaccine for all

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at an online video conference on September 3, 2020 (Ministry of Environment Government of Japan via AP)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at an online video conference on September 3, 2020 (Ministry of Environment Government of Japan via AP)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says the loss of 1 million people to the coronavirus is an “agonizing milestone” that has been made worse by the “savageness of this disease.”

In a statement released Tuesday, after the global death toll from the pandemic crossed 1 million, Guterres called it a “mind-numbing figure.”

“They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues,” he said. “The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease. Risks of infection kept families from bedsides. And the process of mourning and celebrating a life was often made impossible.”

Guterres warned, “There is no end in sight to the spread of the virus, the loss of jobs, the disruption of education, the upheaval to our lives.”

Still, he said, the pandemic could be overcome with responsible leadership, cooperation, and science, as well as precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks. He said any vaccine must be “available and affordable to all.”

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