Daily US Times: Scientists warned on Friday that vaccination against Covid-19 alone won’t stop the rise of new variants and in fact, could push the evolution of strains that evade their protection.
They said people need to take necessary steps, including wearing masks to prevent spread until almost everyone in a population has been vaccinated. The findings were published in Nature Scientific Reports.
The findings support an unpopular decision by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to advise even fully vaccinated people to start wearing masks again in areas of sustained or high transmission.
The scientists wrote in their paper: “We found that a fast rate of vaccination decreases the probability of emergence of a resistant strain.”
Simon Rella of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, who worked on the study, said: “When most people are vaccinated, the vaccine-resistant strain has an advantage over the original strain.”
This means the vaccine resistant strain spreads through the population faster at a time when most people are vaccinated, according to Rella.
But if so-called non pharmaceutical interventions are maintained, such as social distancing and mask use, the virus is less likely to spread and change, and then there is a chance to remove the vaccine resistant mutations from the population.
The team of the researchers used a mathematical model to predict these changes, but their findings follow what is known about the epidemiology of viruses and what’s known as selective pressure — the force that drives an organism to evolve.