Scientist Behind COVID Vaccine Says Next Pandemic Might Be Worse Without More Funding


Professor Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, said that the next pandemic might be worse without more funding toward research and preparations.

Gilbert is set to speak on Monday night at the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, which is named for the BBC‘s first war correspondent and a trailblazer for British television news, AP reported. The lecture, which is televised, features speeches from figures in business, science and government.

She is expected to advocate that governments strengthen their efforts in scientific research and pandemic preparedness and continue to do so after the threat of COVID decreases.

“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.”

Gilbert said the scientific advancements achieved in fighting deadly viruses “must not be lost” due to the cost of battling the current pandemic, according to excerpts released ahead of her speech.

“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.”

The U.K. has more than 10 million confirmed cases of COVID, according to the New York Times, and the world’s second-highest death toll at over 146,000.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

In excerpts released ahead of a speech on December 6, 2021, professor Sarah Gilbert (pictured on June 11, 2021), one of the scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, is warning that the next pandemic might be 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

The U.K. lifted most coronavirus restrictions in July after a successful vaccination campaign, but is now waiting to see whether the new Omicron variant will cause a setback.

The government has tightened travel testing and isolation requirements and barred visitors from South Africa, where the variant was first identified, and several other African countries including Nigeria.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Monday more than 300 Omicron cases had been confirmed in Britain, some with no links to international travel, and “we can conclude that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England.”

Much remains unknown about the variant, including whether it is more contagious as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart vaccines.

“We can’t say for certain at this point whether Omicron has the potential to knock us off our road to recovery,” Javid said.

Sarah Gilbert, Lecture, Funding, Warning, Pandemic
Professor Sarah Gilbert’s Monday speech is expected to advocate that governments strengthen funding for scientific research and pandemic preparedness even after the threat of COVID deceases. Above, a member of the public receives a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a temporary coronavirus vaccination center inside St. John’s Church in west London on December 4, 2021.
Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images