The experience gained and the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic should not be forgotten as any future pandemic would potentially be more dangerous than the one caused by the coronavirus, warned one of the scientists who was closely in development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Sarah Gilbert.
She also stressed that it was critical for the world to keep itself ready for the next pandemic causing virus.
According to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken the life of more than 5.26 million people globally and has resulted in losses worth trillions of dollars in terms of economic output while the ife of billions of people have been completely disrupted.
“The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” Gilbert said in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, according to a report by the BBC.
“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” she said.
It was critical for world leaders to ensure that the world was equipped and ready for the next viral caused pandemic, stressed Gilbert, which is a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford.
“The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost,” she said.
According to criticisms of health experts, measures implemented to bring the current pandemic to an end have been unbalanced and fractured with the low-income countries having very limited access to Covid-19 vaccines whereas booster shots were administered to the “healthy and wealthy” in rich countries.
An urgent call for providing provide permanent financing and striking of a deal for ensuring increased capabilities to examine pandemics was given by a panel of health experts set up by the World Health Organisation and tasked with reviewing how the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been handled globally.
Among the proposals made by the panel is a call for ensuring a fund of at least $10 billion a year which would be used for preparing for the next pandemic.
The current Covid-19 pandemic emerged out of Wuhan in China towards the end of 2019. Scientists and pharma companies have been able to develop and roll out vaccines in record times compared to the usual time required for vaccine creation.
The spike proteins found in the Omicron variant comprised of mutations known to significantly increase the transmission capability of the virus, Gilbert said.
“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,” Gilbert said.
“Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant,” she added.
(Adapted from Business-Standard.com)