Rates of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and vaccination impact the fate of vaccine-resistant strains
Vaccination alone won't stop the rise of new variants. In fact it could push the evolution of strains that evade their protection.
These are the main conclusions of a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports.
People need to wear masks and take other steps to prevent spread until almost everyone in a population has been vaccinated, researchers wrote.
As expected, we found that a fast rate of vaccination decreases the probability of emergence of a resistant strain. Counterintuitively, when a relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions happened at a time when most individuals of the population have already been vaccinated the probability of emergence of a resistant strain was greatly increased.”
When most people are vaccinated, the vaccine-resistant strain has an advantage over the original strain," Simon Rella of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, who worked on the study, told reporters.
This means the vaccine resistant strain spreads through the population faster at a time when most people are vaccinated."
But if so-called non pharmaceutical interventions are maintained -- such as mask use and social distancing -- the virus is less likely to spread and change. "There is a chance to remove the vaccine resistant mutations from the population," Rella said.