106 total views, 1 views today
The woman who created the Oxford vaccine has said Covid is unlikely to mutate into a much deadlier variant and will eventually just cause the common cold.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert said ‘there aren’t very many places for the virus to go to have something that will evade immunity but still be a really infectious virus’.
She said viruses tend to ‘become less virulent as they circulate’ through the population, adding: ‘There is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of Sars-CoV-2’.
Dame Sarah said the virus which causes Covid-19 will eventually become like the coronaviruses which circulate widely and cause the common cold.
Her comments come as Professor Chris Whitty warned that almost all unvaccinated children will become infected with Covid at some point in the future and around half of youngsters have already caught the virus.
Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine seminar, Dame Sarah said: ‘We already live with four different human coronaviruses that we don’t really ever think about very much and eventually Sars-CoV-2 will become one of those.
‘It’s just a question of how long it’s going to take to get there and what measures we’re going to have to take to manage it in the meantime.’
The 59-year-old led the team at Oxford University’s Jenner institute which created the lifesaving Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the most widely distributed jab in the world.
Dame Sarah also revealed she is struggling to get funding to help prevent future pandemics.
The scientist, who specialises in the development of jabs against emerging viruses, said urgent investment was needed to prevent other infectious diseases spreading around the world.
She said: ‘We’re still trying to raise funds to develop other vaccines that we were working on before the pandemic, against diseases that have caused outbreaks in the past and will cause outbreaks in the future.
‘We are being financially supported for our ongoing work against Covid… but when we try to return to projects we were working on before coronavirus we’re still trying to get funding.’
Meanwhile, she said the very rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca jab have not been seen in the same rates in other parts of the world.
She also suggested that primary work on a tweaked vaccine to combat the Beta variant of the virus only gave a ‘slightly better’ immune response than the original vaccine, when given as a third dose to people who had already had two jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the data is still being collected.
In June, then health secretary Matt Hancock said the Government was in commercial discussions with the pharmaceutical giant over the variant vaccine.
Dame Sarah was also asked which of her titles she is most proud of, and said: ‘Professor, definitely.’
The scientist’s comments came as England’s chief medical officer said almost all unvaccinated children will become infected with Covid at some point and said the others would get it ‘sooner or later’, insisting that vaccines will cut that risk.
Being grilled by politicians about his decision to recommend all over-12s are given Covid jabs, Professor Whitty insisted the move was made purely due to the benefits children would get.
He denied the advice — which overruled guidance from No10’s top vaccine advisory panel which recommended youngsters weren’t jabbed — was political.
Professor Whitty said: ‘The great majority of children who have not currently had Covid are going to get it at some point.
‘It won’t be necessary in the next two or three months but they will get it sooner or later because this is incredibly infectious. Vaccination will reduce that risk.’
It comes after Tory MPs yesterday slammed the Government for ‘undermining’ the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) — the independent body advising the Government on vaccine policy — by pushing through jabs for children.
They argued bringing in the measure now was ‘perverse’ because Britain is ‘through the worst of the pandemic’.
But speaking at an education select committee today, Professor Whitty said vaccines in 12- to 15-year-olds will be vital in stemming the current surge in cases in the age group after their return to schools.FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA