Coming pandemics could be even deadlier than Covid-19

(ORDO NEWS) — New pandemics could be more deadly than the current Covid crisis, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine warned.

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, speaking in Richard Dimbleby’s 44th Lecture, said more funding for pandemic preparedness activities is needed to prevent the loss of gains.

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

Dame Sarah added that people should be careful until more is known.

She said: “This is not the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods. The truth is, the next virus could be even worse. It could be more infectious, or more deadly, or both.

We cannot afford to be in a situation where we went through everything we went through and then found that the huge economic losses we suffered meant a lack of funding for pandemic preparedness, ”she added.

Speaking of the Omicron variant, she said its spike protein contains mutations known to increase the transmissibility of the virus.

“But there are additional changes, which could mean that antibodies induced by vaccines or when challenged by other variants may be less effective at preventing infection with Omicron.”

“Until we know more, we need to be careful and take action to slow the spread of this new option.”

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

She also called for rapid progress in vaccine and drug provision during the pandemic to become the norm.

There is no reason why a universal influenza vaccine could not be developed to eradicate the threat posed by influenza, she said.

On Saturday, the government announced that travelers bound for the UK will now have to take a Covid test before leaving to limit the spread of omicrons.

From 04:00 GMT on Tuesday, travelers 12 years of age and older will be required to show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test done no earlier than 48 hours prior to departure.

Nigeria was added to the travel red list after an increasing number of omicron cases were linked to the country.

However, a scientist advising the government said the travel rule changes are “a case of closing the stable door after the horse has already escaped.”

Professor Mark Woolhouse said the new rules were adopted too late to have a “significant impact” on the potential surge in the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

Professor Woolhouse, a member of the government’s Pandemic Influenza Modeling (Spi-M) Science Group, told the BBC Andrew Marr Program that Omicron is “spreading fairly quickly” in the UK and if current trends here and in South Africa continue in the coming weeks and months, it could replace Delta as the world’s dominant strain.

The UK reported 86 new cases of the Omicron variant on Sunday, bringing the total to 246. Overall, there were 43,992 cases on Sunday and 54 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

Dame Sarah – who was awarded the title of Dame in the Queen’s Certificate of Honor earlier this year – began developing a coronavirus vaccine in early 2020, when Covid first hit China.

The vaccine, developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, is currently the most widely used vaccine in the world, with doses sent to more than 170 countries.

The lecture, named after the late TV host Richard Dimbleby, features influential speakers from academia, the arts, business and the royal family.

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