LONDON: COVID is unlikely to mutate into a deadlier variant and will eventually end up as a common cold, said Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who created the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Cutting down fears of a more deadly new variant, she said that viruses tend to "become less virulent as they circulate" through the population. "There is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of SARS-CoV-2", as "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", Gilbert was quoted as saying.
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.
SARS-CoV-2 will eventually become like the coronaviruses which circulate widely and cause the common cold, Gilbert 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," said Gilbert.
"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." Gilbert, who specialises in the development of jabs against emerging viruses, also called for funding to help prevent future pandemics, the report said.
"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," she noted.
Further, she also said the very rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca jab have not been seen at the same rates in other parts of the world. Gilbert 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 data is still being collected, the report said. (IANS)