A vaccine researcher has warned that the next pandemic could be deadly and wreak more havoc than the COVID-19 crisis.
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Sarah Gilbert, a professor at the University of Oxford whose team developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, cautioned that although it is clear that the current pandemic is “not done with us”, the next health threat could pose a greater risk, BBC told,
“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 deadly, or both,” she told the outlet.
Gilbert said it is important that more money and research be devoted to preventing future pandemics.
“We cannot allow a situation where we go through all that we have gone through, and then find that the enormous economic loss we have suffered means there is still no funding for pandemic preparedness. ,” He said.
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“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.”
For the current pandemic, Gilbert urged people to exercise caution until more is known about the new Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa.
She said the mutation of the variant could mean that antibodies induced by vaccines, or other variants, could be less effective at preventing infection.
“Until we know more, we must remain vigilant, and take steps to slow the spread of this new variant,” she said.
The World Health Organization has warned that Omicron appears to be highly permeable and could overtake Delta to become the most dominant strain.
However, experts said more research is needed to determine whether it causes more severe disease or is resistant to vaccines.