The global community must learn from the Covid-19 crisis as the next pandemic could be even worse a scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine has said.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford University academic who helped to develop a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine in under a year, has warned against complacency in tackling future threats. According to Gilbert a future virus could be worse than Covid-19 which has killed more than 5 million people across the world and wiped trillions of pounds from the global economy.
“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” she said in a lecture at Oxford University due to be broadcast by the BBC tonight. “The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”
In comments shared with news media in advance, she argued that the global pandemic shows the importance of being prepared for the next health emergency: “The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost.”
The experts who worked to develop vaccines “must not now be asked to fade back into patient and under-funded obscurity,” Gilbert continued.
It comes as the World Health Organisation’s panel on pandemic preparedness have called for a review into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and has called for permanent funding and greater ability to investigate pandemics. One proposal called for $10bn in funding per year for pandemic preparedness.
The WHO has been critical of the world’s approach to the Covid-19 vaccine roll out which has seen richer countries stockpile jabs and roll out booster programmes before people in poorer countries have even received a first dose.
AstraZeneca developed its vaccine as a not for profit initiative and has been administered in over 50 countries.