Coronavirus vaccines will control the variants they were designed to control. Any new variants arising in vaccinated people are more likely to be vaccine-resistant.
Of the Kent, Brazilian and South African variants, only the latter comes close to breaking our line of vaccine defences. Because all three of those variants arose without any selective pressure from the vaccines, it’s a bleak warning.
What of the vaccines?
The vaccines are designed to prevent severe COVID-19 disease. They are not intended to stop people becoming infected and spreading virus. The creation of new variants happens within infected people. Now it can happen within the lungs of vaccinated people.
It seems that vaccinated people are spreading less virus. We need to appreciate that what they are spreading will have arisen in the presence of vaccine protection.
That selective pressure accelerates genetic change and delivers new variants.
Vaccinated people are more likely to be spreading variants which have found a way around the vaccine protection.
Variants which have found a complete way of circumventing vaccine protection may be spreading already.
The R challenge ahead
Our challenge is to reduce the multiplying of those new vaccine-resistant variants. We want to prevent them filling the void left by the current variants.
We need to do more about what is happening within infected people. Consider what happens every time the virus spreads from one lung cell to the next. Vaccine selective pressure will enhance genetic change resulting in vaccine-resistant variants.
A lot of emphasis goes into reducing the R value. That’s the number of people an infected person infects. At NewGenne we choose to call that the outer R. A much bigger issue is the number of lungs cells an infected lung cell infects; the inner R. Variants arise within people. The vaccine-resistant variants will arise within people.
Focusing our actions on the inner R becomes our best protection. Ignoring the inner R allows more virus to be produced.