| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

COVID-19 will just end up causing a ‘common cold’: Oxford vaccine creator

A leading scientist behind the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has said that COVID-19 is unlikely to turn into a more lethal form that can evade vaccines because there “aren’t very many places for the virus to go” and will eventually cause the common cold.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, speaking on a Royal Society of Medicine webinar on Wednesday, dismissed fears of a more contagious new strain.

“We normally see that viruses become less virulent as they circulate more easily and there is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of Sars-CoV-2,” she said, according to The Times newspaper in the UK.

“There are not many places for the virus to go that can evade immunity but still be a truly infectious virus.”

She said that viruses “become less virulent” through populations, adding: “There is no reason to think that we will have a more virulent version of Sars-CoV-2.”

“We already live with four different human coronaviruses that we never really think about very much and eventually Sars-CoV-2 in will become one.”

These other coronaviruses cause the common cold and Dame Gilbert said: “Eventually Sars-CoV-2 will become one of those.”

“It’s just a question of how long it will take to get there and what measures we will have to take to manage it in the meantime.”

The 59-year-old led the team at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute that created the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the most widely distributed jab in the world.

The remarks came as Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, warned that nearly all uninfected children would become infected with COVID-19 at some point in the future and that nearly half of young people had already caught the virus.

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