Scientists leading the push for a coronavirus vaccine at Oxford University have warned that there is a risk of spreading the disease from animals to humans.
Professor Sarah Gilbert said human activity is advancing the growing threat, and the risk is unlikely to diminish in the future as globalization continues.
The World Health Organization estimates that zoonoses or zoonotic diseases cause a staggering billions of cases and millions of deaths each year.
Meanwhile, per cent of the globally reported infectious diseases have jumped from animals to humans.
Professor Gilbert told The Independent, “The larger the population density, the more travel, the deforestation – all of these things make this possibility more likely and then something spreads.”
For updates on coronavirus, follow our live blog here.
“Because of the way things are going in the world, we are more likely to get zoonotic infections in the future.”
Most researchers believe that the Covid-19 has emerged in bats and infected humans by another animal, possibly on the market in Wuhan, China.
Other deadly diseases such as Ebola, SARS and West Nile virus have also occurred in animals.
The Oxford project is awaiting the results of three rounds of testing of its vaccine and if a high level of effectiveness is proven, the team hopes it will be available by the end of the year.
AstraZeneca, Oxford’s pharmaceutical partner in the project, has committed to producing two billion doses by next summer.
The UK, South Africa, Brazil and the US. The vaccine is being tested in thousands of volunteers.
Other vaccines of development have entered the same phase, and Professor Gilbert said there was “a very good chance” that some would prove effective.
“We’ve seen good levels of neutralizing antibodies, we’re seeing strong T cell reactions from some of them. If this works, other vaccines will work as well. We expect there will be more vaccines.”