Vaccine creator warns next pandemic may be worse

The spread of the Omicron variant is fueling fears of yet another global surge in Coronavirus cases.

As health officials and pharmaceutical firms race to develop targeted vaccines and COVID-19 treatments, at least one vaccine expert warned this pandemic would not be the last.

“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods.”

Sarah Gilbert, one of the creators of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, told an audience at Oxford University on Monday that nations must make an enduring commitment to pandemic preparedness.

“And I’d like to finish on a high note, but the truth is the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious or more lethal or both. 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.”

The novel coronavirus has killed 5.26 million people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Closures and health restrictions wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output and turned life upside down for billions of people.

Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said that amid the battle against this pandemic, the world should not lose sight of the threat posed by the next one.

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

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