In a statement vaccine maker Oxford-AstraZeneca said, future pandemics could potentially be more lethal than COVID-19; the lessons learned from coronavirus induced COVID-19 outbreak must not be squandered.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the Wuhan Coronavirus has, so far, killed 5.26 million people across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in economic output, turning life up side down for billions of people.
“The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” said Sarah Gilbert. “This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods.”
Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said the world should make sure it is better prepared for the next virus. “The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost”.
A panel of health experts set up by the World Health Organisation to review the handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has called for greater ability to investigate pandemics through a new treaty and permanent funding for it.
One proposal aims for new financing of at least $10 billion a year for pandemic preparedness.
The COVID-19 pandemic was first reported in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Vaccines were developed against the virus in record time.
The Omicron variant’s spike protein contained mutations known to increase the transmissibility of the virus.
“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,” said Gilbert. “Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant.”