The attack on people who refuse the vaccine continues.
You can imagine where this is going.
In anticipation of an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, states and cities across the United States have enjoyed reopening once-shuttered communities for business, leisure, summer festivities and travel as life has returned to near-normal.
However, health officials remain on high alert given one ongoing obstacle to being finished with Covid-19: wide swaths of unvaccinated people in America that could allow the virus to further mutate and potentially spawn more transmissible and increasingly deadly variants.
That means that unvaccinated people are not only at greater risk of Covid-19 themselves, but could also potentially undermine America’s whole vaccine rollout if any future variant emerging in the US was significantly resistant to the shots.
“Unvaccinated people are basically the cannon fodder of the virus. The virus needs people to infect in order to replicate and the more people it has that are vulnerable or susceptible to infection, the more likely it will mutate,” said Dr Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“The challenge that we’re facing in the public health response … is that we’ve gotten the ‘easy’ people in terms of vaccination. The ones that were eager for it, that couldn’t wait to get it,” said Dr Susan Hassig, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
But, in addition to experiencing the worst form of Covid-19, unvaccinated people present additional opportunities for the Covid-19 virus to mutate. The Delta variant of Covid-19, a more contagious and aggressive mutation of the virus that is now the dominant strain, is a direct result of the coronavirus mutating in people who have been infected. Viruses mutate once they are in the body of a person who has been infected. Some virus mutations can weaken a virus, while others, as observed with the Delta variant, make the virus more harmful.
Hence, clusters of unvaccinated people not only risk transmitting the virus to others, but risk spreading a stronger, more contagious version of Covid.
“Unvaccinated populations, of whatever size, are the breeding ground where the virus will eventually generate some form of mutation that will probably be a problem for us,” said Hassig.
“What we can do about it is get everyone vaccinated. That protects us from getting infected in the first place and if the virus isn’t able to infect, it’s not going to replicate … and a new variant won’t emerge,” said Saag.
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