Life will not be able to return to normal until the world is vaccinated against Covid-19, according to one of the scientists behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Dame Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, warned that variants of the virus will continue to be a threat until more jabs are made and distributed to populations around the globe.
She said that although the vaccines available are effective against variants which are in circulation currently, there could be a “much worse situation” if rates of Covid-19 remain high in parts of the world.
She told the Full Disclosure podcast with LBC’s James O’Brien: “I hope that we are now going to reach the position where it is recognised that vaccines are needed for everybody.
“They are needed in this country and they are needed for the whole world as well, and actually vaccinating the whole world is the best way to protect us.
“Because if we don’t, then there will be new variants arising, and we will never get back to normality if we can’t get everybody vaccinated.”
Dame Sarah, who co-created the jab which has gone into the arms of tens of millions of people, stressed the importance of more vaccines being produced and distributed around the globe.
She added: “Because if we don’t, the virus is going to continue to circulate and to mutate, and we won’t be able to travel, and we may reach a point where the vaccines that are in use now are much less effective.
“We’re not there yet, the vaccines are still highly effective against the variants that are now circulating, but there could come a point if we allow transmission to continue at a high rate in parts of the world that may be a long way away, but the viruses travel very quickly, we could get into a much worse situation.
“So we have to continue to get this vaccine out to everybody for our own protection as well as theirs.”
Only 1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday, according to the latest figures collated by Our World In Data.
This is compared to 50% of people in high income countries, according to the online publication, which uses public official sources.