One of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has said that 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.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the novel coronavirus killed 5.26 million people across the world, wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output and turned life upside down for billions of people.

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture that the truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both. This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods.

She said the world should make sure it is better prepared for the next virus.

She added that the advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost.

Health experts said that 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.

A panel of health experts set up by the World Health Organisation to review the handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has called for permanent funding and for greater ability to investigate pandemics through a new treaty.

One proposal was for new financing of at least $10 billion a year for pandemic preparedness.

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