One of the scientists who created the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine said the next pandemic could be more lethal than Covid-19. Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert said the world has not seen the last pandemic and that the next one could be more contagious.
Dame Sarah was speaking at the 44th Richard Dimbleby Lecture, named in honour of the late broadcaster. She warned:
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.
According to Dame Sarah, the lessons learnt and the technological advancements made from the COVID-19 pandemic should come in handy when the next pandemic hits.
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. The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost.
Prior to the emergence of Covid-19 last year, Dame Sarah worked on vaccines for more than 10 years, using antigens from malaria and influenza.
Earlier this year, she was recognized with a damehood for services to science and public health.
She also touched on the emerging Omicron variant, which has resulted in the re-introduction of travel restrictions in the UK and other countries. Dame Sarah said:
Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant. But as we have seen before, reduced protection against infection and mild disease does not necessarily mean reduced protection against severe disease and death