In a lecture that BBC will broadcast Monday night, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine co-creator Professor Sarah Gilbert shared warnings about the next pandemic, saying that it could be worse than COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 5.2 million worldwide and has resulted in over 266 million global infections, according to Johns Hopkins University data, though these numbers are likely an underestimate. Some countries have been accused of not reporting the real number of cases and deaths.

As human beings continue to encroach on wild territory, the likelihood of another pandemic that “could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” according to Gilbert, who is also an Oxford University academic, is high.

She added, “This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods. The truth is, the next one could be worse.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a global pandemic preparedness treaty.

Future pandemics are something scientists are warning the world about as COVID-19 mutates faster than the world can keep up with. Though Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the U.S., has said that the early data on the new Omicron variant is encouraging, suggesting that it may be less dangerous than Delta, that may not be the case for every variant.