U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for doubling the production capacity for novel coronavirus vaccines to ensure global access as the world marks a year since the World Health Organization head termed the virus outbreak a pandemic.

"COVID-19 vaccines must be seen as a global public good. The world needs to unite to produce and distribute sufficient vaccines for all, which means at least doubling manufacturing capacity around the world," Guterres said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (Kyodo)  


"I am deeply concerned that many low-income countries have not yet received a single dose, while wealthier countries are on track to vaccinating their entire population," he said, adding that he sees "many examples of vaccine nationalism and vaccine hoarding in wealthier countries."

While describing the turbulent year as "a tsunami of suffering" due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. chief also signaled optimism for the outlook, saying, "With the vaccine roll-out, there's some light at the end of the tunnel."

He also hailed health workers and other essential workers who "helped save lives."

As of Thursday, 118 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide and over 2.62 million have died, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University tally.