Start preparing for next pandemic now, experts warn Boris Johnson

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Britain must learn from the “tragic” lessons of the past 12 months and start preparing for the next pandemic now, world-leading experts and scientists have warned.

Although the UK appears to have turned a corner in its fight against coronavirus, with infections and deaths falling across the four nations, experts told The Independent there was no room for complacency and that more investment was needed in nationwide biodefences.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, whose team developed the Oxford vaccine, said it was vital to listen to the warnings “and prepare for the next one”, while Professor Peter Horby, a scientific adviser to the government, said rising global connectivity was “increasing the odds” of future outbreaks.

Because of this, the scientists said, the UK cannot afford to drop its guard once through the worst of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, which has claimed more than 126,000 lives and thrown Britain into economic freefall.

Prof Horby, chair of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said that “memories are short-lived” when it comes to serious outbreaks, pointing to the example of Sars which “everyone had forgotten about after four or five years”.

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