Next pandemic could be more lethal than Covid-Jab creator

 Next pandemic could be more lethal than Covid-Jab creator

Future pandemics could be more lethal than the current Covid crisis, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has warned.

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert, delivering the 44th Richard Dimbleby Lecture, said there needed to be more funding for pandemic preparedness to prevent the advances made from being lost.

She also warned vaccines could be less effective against the Omicron variant.

Dame Sarah added that people should be cautious until more was known about it.

She 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.

“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.

Speaking about the Omicron variant, she said its spike protein contained mutations known to increase the 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.”

However, Dame Sarah said reduced protection against infection and mild disease would not necessarily mean reduced protection against severe illness and death.

She also called for the rapid progress seen in delivering vaccines and medicines during the pandemic to become the norm.

There was no reason why a universal flu jab could not be developed in order to wipe out the threat from influenza, she said.