Scientist behind UK vaccine says next pandemic may be worse

AP International News

FILE – Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert on June 11, 2021. In excerpts released ahead of a speech Monday Dec. 6, 2021, Prof. Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, is warning that the next pandemic may more contagious and more lethal unless more money is devoted to research and preparations to fight emerging viral threats. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP, file)

LONDON (AP) — One of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is warning that the next pandemic may be more contagious and more lethal unless more money is devoted to research and preparations to fight emerging viral threats.

In excerpts released before a speech Monday, Professor Sarah Gilbert says the scientific advances made in fighting deadly viruses “must not be lost” because of the cost of fighting the current pandemic.

“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,’’ Gilbert is expected to say. “The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”

Gilbert is scheduled to make the remarks Monday night when she delivers this year’s Richard Dimbleby lecture, named after the late broadcaster who was the BBC’s first war correspondent and a pioneer of television news in Britain. The annual televised lecture features addresses by influential figures in business, science and government.

Gilbert is set to call on governments to redouble their commitment to scientific research and pandemic preparedness, even after the threat of COVID-19 wanes.

“We cannot allow a situation where we have gone through all we have gone through, and then find that the enormous economic losses we have sustained mean that there is still no funding for pandemic preparedness,’’ she said. “The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost.”

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