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Vaccinologist Sarah Gilbert: ‘We need to be better prepared for a new pandemic’

The woman who co-developed the AstraZeneca vaccine on reassuring doubters, her new book and having a baby penguin named after her

Dame Sarah Gilbert, 60, is a professor of vaccinology at Oxford’s Jenner Institute and author, with Catherine Green, head of Oxford University’s clinical biomanufacturing facility, of Vaxxers – a gripping narrative about developing the AstraZeneca vaccine that is wonderfully accessible and illuminating without dumbing down the science. She lives in Oxford with her husband and grownup triplets.

Another wave of Covid-19 is reported to be on its way. To what extent are you able to anticipate what the virus will do next and prepare?
Anticipating what the virus will do next is the job of those who do surveillance in epidemiology. But if a new sequence is thought to be becoming dominant, our problem is that making a new version of the vaccine takes time and has to be tested and approved. What’s been happening, as we go through one wave after another, is that the virus has been too quick. Regulators cannot approve a vaccine unless they can see the clinical data, then you have to scale up manufacturing to produce the vaccine in quantity. Developers are still using the original vaccines, which are supplying good protection against the disease.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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