Scientist behind UK vaccine says next pandemic may be worse

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 yesterday, Professor Sarah Gilbert said 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 said. “The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”

Gilbert made the remarks yesterday 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.