Future pandemics could be more lethal than COVID-19, says vaccine creator
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, said at the 44th Richard Dimbleby Lecture that future pandemics could be worse than COVID-19 and that more money was needed to be adequately prepared. This is according to a report by the BBC published Tuesday.
"This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods. The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both, “ she said.
"We cannot allow a situation where we have gone through all we have gone through, and then find that the enormous economic losses we have sustained mean that there is still no funding for pandemic preparedness," she added.
"The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost."
She also said that the Omicron variant featured a spike protein that contained mutations known to increase its transmissibility.
"But there are additional changes that may mean antibodies induced by the vaccines, or by infection with other variants, may be less effective at preventing infection with Omicron,” she explained.
"Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant."
This is not the first time an expert warns of a possible future outbreak. In February of 2022, Bill Gates said something very similar.
He declared at the time that the risks of severe disease from the coronavirus had “dramatically reduced” but that another pandemic could soon be among us.
“We’ll have another pandemic. It will be a different pathogen next time,” Gates said to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at Germany’s annual Munich Security Conference.
He added that the coronavirus pandemic had been subdued as many parts of the population had gained some level of immunity. He also explained that the virus itself had created that immunity and that it had “done a better job of getting out to the world population than we have with vaccines.”
“The chance of severe disease, which is mainly associated with being elderly and having obesity or diabetes, those risks are now dramatically reduced because of that infection exposure,” he explained.
A need to be prepared
He also added that should another pandemic arise, experts should be quicker at producing vaccines. “Next time we should try and make it, instead of two years, we should make it more like six months,” Gates said.
For all who have lived through the hell of COVID-19 and possibly lost loved ones, these words are bound to strike fear. However, they are important to be heard and followed to avoid a similar crisis in the future.
Governments and experts worldwide need to create precautionary measures for handling the next worldwide pandemic. One thing is for sure, next time we will be better prepared simply because we managed to survive one crisis before.
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