By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) – World Health Organization’s head of emergency services on Wednesday hailed Britain’s approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

However, Dr. Mike Ryan said more vaccines are needed and until then measures such as wearing masks in public must be followed.

Ryan spoke with WHO epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove at a public forum about the COVID-19 hosted online.

They cited “hope” from vaccine developments but stressed the need for other safety measures.

“We shouldn’t stop; we need more than 3-4 vaccines. We need to increase production; we need to pull the price down. We need a one-dose vaccine,” said Ryan commenting on UK’s vaccine developments.

UK became the first country to allow use of the Pfizer/BioNtech coronavirus vaccine on the public after clinical approval from the country’s regulatory authority.

The vaccine, which provides 95% protection against COVID-19, will be rolled out as early as next week, a government statement said.

Ryan said: “It’s annoying to say, we’re not there. And we’re going to have to be very patient with each other over the coming months. We’ve got to keep up with what we’re doing now.

“There are lives that will be lost if we don’t keep up what we’re doing. And then when the vaccine comes on stream and full, we’ll be able to save more lives.”

The WHO official said: “Keep yourself safe; keep everyone else safe. And then the vaccines will really make a difference. The vaccines are not a replacement for good public health. They are a massive addition to the armory we need to defeat this virus.”

The advice came as the International Council of Nurses (ICN) called on governments to ensure nursing leaders are at the heart of the planning and delivering of proposed mass vaccination programs.

ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton spoke to journalists at a press conference organized by the Geneva UN correspondents’ association, ACANU.

He said: “It is great news that vaccination may soon be available: it gives hope to billions of people that the nightmare of this pandemic will be brought under control.

“But a successful vaccination program is so much more than just a quick jab in the arm, and the huge and unprecedented task of vaccinating the people of the world is the public health equivalent of landing someone on the moon.”

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