The scientist, who is leading Oxford University’s efforts to get a coronavirus vaccine, has warned of an increasing risk of spreading outbreaks of animal diseases to humans.
Professor Sarah Gilbert said human activity posed a growing threat, adding that the risk would not decrease in the future as globalization continued.
The World Health Organization says that about a billion cases and millions of deaths occur each year from zoonoses or zoonotic diseases.
Meanwhile, 60% of emerging infectious diseases reported worldwide have been transmitted from animals to humans.
“Higher population density, more travel, deforestation ̵
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“Because of the way things are going around the world, we are more likely to have zoonotic infections causing outbreaks in the future.”
Most researchers believe that Covid-19 originated from bats and infected humans through another animal, possibly at a market in Wuhan, China.
Other deadly diseases such as Ebola, Sars and West Nile virus also come from animals.
The Oxford project expects results from three phases of testing of its vaccine, and if a high level of efficacy is demonstrated, the team hopes it can be available by the end of the year.
Oxford’s pharmaceutical partner in the project, AstraZeneca, is committed to producing two billion doses by next summer.
The vaccine is being tested on tens of thousands of volunteers in Britain, South Africa, Brazil and the United States.
Other vaccines under development have entered the same stage, and Professor Gilbert said there is a “very good chance” that some will be effective.
“We’ve seen good levels of neutralizing antibodies, we’re seeing strong T-cell responses from some of them. If that works, other vaccines will work, too. We expect a lot of vaccines,” she told the newspaper.