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Next pandemic: “It’s absolutely inevitable,” warns top British scientist

Next pandemic: “It’s absolutely inevitable,” warns top British scientist

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Days after Singapore reported FLiRT, a new variant of Omicron, the COVID-19 strain, a British scientist has warned that the next pandemic is “absolutely inevitable.”

Stressing learning from the hard-won lessons of COVID-19, Sir Patrick Wallance, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the United Kingdom Government, cautioned, “We are not ready yet,” the media reported on Tuesday.

He also urged the next British government, which will take office after the July mid-term polls, to prioritize preparedness efforts to avoid a repeat of the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking at the Hay Festival in Powys, Sir Vallance emphasized the pressing need for the UK government to implement robust surveillance systems capable of rapidly detecting emerging threats.

Recalling his advice to G-7 leaders in 2021, he emphasized a coordinated global approach to develop rapid diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments. “We need to be much faster, much more aligned,” he was quoted as saying.

Sir Wallance lamented that by 2023, the G-7 had seemingly “forgotten” about the points he had raised.

He advocated treating pandemic preparedness with the same urgency and commitment as maintaining a standing military force. “We know we have to have an army, not because there’s going to be a war this year, but we know it’s an important part of what we need as a nation.”

“We need to treat this preparedness in the same way and not to view it as an easy thing to keep cutting back when there’s no sign of a pandemic – because there won’t be a sign of a pandemic.”

While acknowledging steps in the right direction, such as the World Health Organization’s proposed pandemic accord, Sir Vallance expressed concern over the lack of sustained focus on this critical issue.

“If this gets pushed off G7 and G20 agendas, we’ll be in exactly the same position,” he warned, emphasising the importance of maintaining momentum.

Several scientists across the world have also raised alerts calling for stricter codes to manage future pandemic, warning that the next breakout will happen and that it’s just a matter of time.


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