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Expert warns next pandemic could be ‘worse’ and ‘more contagious, or more lethal, or both’

by LLB staff reporter
6th Dec 21 12:31 pm

A scientist who was one of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine inventors has warned the Covid will not be the last or the worst pandemic.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert who is a vaccinologist warned that the next non-Covid outbreak could “more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”

Dame Sarah said, “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.”

The vaccinologist added, “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.”

Dame Sarah continued, “Just as we invest in armed forces and intelligence and diplomacy to defend against wars, we must invest in people, research and manufacturing and institutions to defend against pandemics.”

She said that it is too early to know what effects Omicron variant will have, on Sunday, the UK Health Security Agency said a further 86 cases of Omicron had been confirmed in the UK, 68 in England and 18 in Scotland, with the total now being 246.

Speaking about the Omicron variant, Dame Sarah said, “The spike protein of this variant contains mutations already known to increase transmissibility of the virus.

“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.

“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.”

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