It is “almost certain” that a SARS-CoV-2 variant will emerge to spell doom for current vaccines. This is according to a published analysis by the UK Government’s official scientific advisory group. SAR-CoV-2 is the official name for the virus responsible for COVID-19.
There is still no hard evidence of such a variant existing, the early research remains theoretical, and the analysis hasn’t been peer-reviewed. The July 26 publication and similar documents are released as pre-print publications that have given the government rapid evidence to deal with an emergency. The British government published it on Friday.
The group of scientists are of the opinion that there’s a rather slim chance of eradicating the virus. Therefore, it’s only logical to expect new variants. The report surmises that a “gradual or punctuated” aggregation of antigenic variation inevitably causing “vaccine failure” is “almost certain.”
According to the scientists, the authorities should take every measure aimed at reducing the possibility of a novel, vaccine-resistant variant.
Their recommendation also includes focusing research on new vaccines that prevent disease and hospital admission, besides inducing high and durable levels of mucosal immunity.
The group recommends the goal of minimizing transmission from and infection of vaccinated individuals. Besides, government should aim to lower the possibility of variant selection in vaccinated persons. Current COVID-19 vaccine research efforts are starting to address the question of new variants.
The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) discussed and published the paper, and its views are from a group of academics focused on how SARS-CoV-2 will evolve in the long term. Several variants of the virus have emerged in the last few months and show lower susceptibility to vaccine-acquired immunity. However, none of these variants seems to escape completely.
These variants emerged before vaccination became commonplace, and as vaccines become more widespread, there’ll be increased transmission advantage from vaccine-acquired immunity.
It remains to be seen how the scientists’ postulations will hold up under scrutiny.