Search icon


06th Dec 2021

Next pandemic could be “more contagious or more lethal” says vaccine creator

Dave Hanratty

Sarah Gilbert next pandemic more lethal warning

A stark warning.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, who helped developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to treat Covid-19, has warned that the next pandemic could be even more contagious and severe.

Speaking as part of the 44th Richard Dimbleby lecture, which will be broadcast by the BBC on Monday, Gilbert also underlined that the current Covid-19 pandemic is far from concluded.

“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” Gilbert said, according to the Guardian.

“The truth is the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”

The AZ vaccine developed by Gilbert’s team is used in more than 170 countries around the world.

The University of Oxford professor went on to call for significant investment to be placed into pandemic preparation, prevention and management.

“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.

“Just as we invest in armed forces and intelligence and diplomacy to defend against wars, we must invest in people, research, manufacturing and institutions to defend against pandemics.”

On Sunday, the Department of Health confirmed 5,156 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

As of Sunday morning, 503 patients are in hospital in relation to the virus, of whom 110 are in ICU.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that it is “clear as daylight” that unvaccinated people are taking risks for both themselves and the public while they remain unvaccinated.

“We have done well relative to others, there’s a very good, strong booster campaign being administered now across the country,” he said.

“It’s really important that people take up the vaccinations, even those that haven’t taken a first or second dose. It is very important that they consider taking their first or second dose and that people take their booster when offered.

“We know now that the unvaccinated have a disproportionate impact on our health services, on our ICU beds.

“It’s as clear as daylight that you are taking real risks if you don’t get vaccinated, in terms of your own personal health and the health of others.”

The Taoiseach’s comments echo Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s sentiments as expressed on CNN last month, where he said that unvaccinated people were “causing a lot of the trouble” as cases continue to rise.

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge