Risk of vaccine-resistant variants highest when most jabbed: study
New research published on Friday found that relaxing restrictions like mask-wearing and social distancing when the majority of people have been vaccinated greatly increases the risk of vaccine-resistant variants of the virus that causes Covid-19.
The authors claimed their modeling analysis showed the necessity to continue non-vaccination measures at a time when approximately 60% of Europeans had received at least one vaccine dose until everyone has been completely vaccinated.
A pan-European team of scientists simulated the possibility of a vaccine-resistant strain emerging in a population of 10 million individuals over three years to anticipate how the SARS-CoV-2 virus may evolve in response to vaccination efforts.
Vaccination, mutation, and transmission rates were studied, as well as repeating “waves” of viruses and decreases in cases as a result of lockdowns. Predictably, the model showed that a rapid rate of vaccination reduced the risk of a resistant strain emerging.
But in what the authors called a “counterintuitive result”, the model showed that the highest risk of resistant strains emerging came when a large proportion of the population was vaccinated, but not large enough to ensure herd immunity. This is essentially where much of Europe is right now, where the Delta variant is quickly spreading.
According to the scientists, the model indicated that once 60 percent of the population had been vaccinated, resistant variations were more likely to appear.”Vaccines are our greatest hope for surviving this epidemic,” said co-author Simon Rella of the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology (IST).
“What our model demonstrated is that the vaccine-resistant strain has an advantage over the original strain when the majority of people are vaccinated.”
“This means that the vaccine-resistant strain spreads across the population quicker than the original strain at a time when the majority of individuals have been vaccinated,” Rella said in an online briefing to journalists.
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