UK,SOUTH AFRICA: Future pandemics could be even more lethal than COVID-19 so the lessons learned from the outbreak must not be squandered and the world should ensure it is prepared for the next viral onslaught, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine said.
The novel coronavirus has killed 5.26 million people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output and turned life upside down for billions of people.
“The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” Sarah Gilbert said in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, the BBC reported. “This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods.”
Gilbert, a Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said the world should make sure it is better prepared for the next virus.
“The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost,” she said. Efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic have been uneven and fragmented, marked by limited access to vaccines in low-income countries while the “healthy and wealthy” in rich countries get boosters, health experts say.
Gilbert said the Omicron variant’s spike protein contained mutations known to increase the transmissibility of the virus.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Health Minister Sajid Javid told the House of Commons on Monday that the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is now in transmission within the community across regions of England, as he confirmed a total of 336 cases of the mutation first detected in South Africa.
“This includes cases with no links to international travel. So, we can conclude that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England,” he said. Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has termed the surge in infections as a matter of “great concern”.
President Ramaphosa said the number of daily infections has increased five-fold in the past week, with nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 tests now returning positive.
“While the surge in infections is of great concern, we should remember that we anticipated it. Disease modellers in our country have told us that we would likely experience a fourth wave around this time and that it was almost inevitable that new variants of the virus would emerge,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday.
“As the country heads into a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, we are experiencing a rate of infections that we have not seen since the pandemic started. The Omicron variant that was brought to global attention by South African scientists nearly two weeks ago appears to be dominating new infections in most provinces,” he said.
– INDIAN EXPRESS, INDIA TODAY