Tuesday 6 December 2022

Coronavirus: Next pandemic could be worse, warns AstraZeneca creator

Scientist Sarah Gilbert insisted that the omicron variant "contains known mutations that increase the transmissibility of the virus."

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A future new pandemic threatens to be “worse” than the current one, British scientist Sarah Gilbert, co-creator of the Oxford / AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine, warned Monday, calling for more investment in research to be better prepared for that possibility.

Since the detection of the coronavirus in China, that country has tried to contain its expansion with forceful confinements and restrictions- – Photo: AP

“This will not be the last time that a virus threatens our lives and livelihoods. The truth is that the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more deadly, or both, “Gilbert will warn in excerpts from a speech to be broadcast on the BBC on Monday night.

The speech is part of the Richard Dimbleby Conference, which brings together personalities from the world of science, the arts and business each year.

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This professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, who helped create a vaccine against covid-19 that is now used in more than 170 countries, will ask that the scientific advances made in the fight against the coronavirus are not “lost” due to lack financing.

“We cannot allow a situation where, after going through everything we have been through, we find that the enormous economic losses we have suffered mean that there are still no funds for pandemic preparedness,” he should say.

Gilbert will also talk about the omicron variant, against which the United Kingdom has intensified its vaccination campaign and reintroduced mandatory masks in transport and shops.

He will explain that this variant “contains known mutations that increase the transmissibility of the virus” and that “antibodies induced by vaccines, or by infection with other variants, may be less effective in preventing contagion with omicron.”

“Until we know more, we must be prudent and take steps to slow the spread of this new variant,” he recommends.

To curb the spread, the British government announced last weekend that travelers to the UK will have to take a negative test before boarding.

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They must also undergo a PCR test within two days of arrival, and be isolated until the result is obtained.

The United Kingdom, one of the countries hardest hit by covid-19, with more than 145,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic, announced on Sunday that it had 246 confirmed cases of the omicron variant, compared to 160 the day before.

Article was originally published in Spanish by Semana.com

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