The UK is "really unsafe" from future pandemic threats, warns Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Speaking to the Science and Technology Committee, Professor Pollard expressed concern over insufficient research into various microbes that pose potential threats.

He said: "We already knew a lot about coronaviruses and how to make vaccines for them – there had been decades of research on coronavirus vaccines.

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"One of the problems that we have is most of those other microbes which are out there which could threaten us, we haven’t done any of that work.

"If it were to take 10 or 20 years to do the research and development... we are nowhere near the beginning of that starting gun."

He added: "I think the Government’s figures (are) about £45 billion investment in a year into defence – we recognise that we need to do stuff for peacetime, even though hopefully we don’t have to deploy that.

"But for pandemics we’re putting a fraction of that, tiny fraction of that into preparedness."

The former chairman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, Dr Clive Dix, criticised the government, claiming they had "destroyed" much of the taskforce's work.

Dr Dix, CEO at C4X Discovery, said: "The reason the taskforce was formed was because there was no infrastructure to work across industry, academia and government to actually pull together what we did.

"What I’ve seen since April 2021 is a complete demise of all the activities that made that thing work, literally gone."

Dr Dix stressed that the UK has lost resilience due to manufacturers leaving the UK after feeling mistreated.

He cited the termination of the vaccine deal with French firm Valneva as an example of poor decision-making.

The Science and Technology Committee also heard from Health Scotland's chief scientist, Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, and Professor Chris Molloy, chief executive of Medicines Discovery Catapult, who reiterated the need to maintain potential lab space to be prepared for future pandemics.

Referring to the sale of the Rosalind Franklin Covid Laboratory as a "missed opportunity", they emphasized the importance of continual investment in pandemic preparedness.

Despite these criticisms, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has released its new Pathogen Genomics Strategy.

This five-year initiative outlines the incorporation of genomics into every aspect of infectious disease control.

Dame Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said, "UK experts in the field of pathogen genomics made a vital contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic response and pathogen genomics remains central to the national and international effort to keep the public safe.

“We know it will become even more important in the years to come, and our new strategy will ensure that UKHSA continues to be at the forefront of implementing this technology to keep our communities safe, save lives and protect livelihoods.”