One of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine warns that the next pandemic could be more infectious and more deadly if more money is not spent on research and training to combat emerging viral threats.
In excerpts released ahead of Monday’s speech, Professor Sarah Gilbert says scientific advances in the fight against deadly viruses “must not be lost” at the cost of fighting the current pandemic.
“This won’t be the last time the virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” Gilbert is expected to say. “In truth, the next one could be worse. It could be more infectious, or more deadly, or both. “
Gilbert is due to make the announcement Monday night when she gives a lecture this year by Richard Dimbleby, named after the late television presenter who was the BBC’s first war correspondent and a pioneer of television news in the UK. The annual televised lecture includes speeches from influential figures in business, academia and government.
Gilbert intends to urge governments to redouble their commitment to research and pandemic preparedness even as the COVID-19 threat subsides.
“We cannot afford to be in a situation where we have gone through everything we went through and then find that the huge economic losses we have suffered means there is still no funding for pandemic preparedness,” she said. “The successes we have achieved and the knowledge gained should not be lost.”