A recent report by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) revealed that delaying the second dose of coronavirus vaccine will increase the chances of a vaccine-resistant strain of COVID-19 emerging. The scientists warned that the resistant new variants were a “realistic possibility” driven by the virus reacting to increasing levels of natural immunity among the population. They said that there was “increased risk” of virus replication under partial immunity after one dose than after two doses.
According to The Independent, the scientist noted that currently, it is not possible to quantify the probability of emergence of vaccine resistance as a result of the delayed second dose, but it is likely to be small. They noted that in the current UK circumstances the unquantifiable but likely small probability of the delayed second dose generating a vaccine escape mutant must be weighed against the measurable benefits of doubling the speed with which the most vulnerable can be given vaccine-induced protection. In the report, they said that given what they have observed with the variants, it is a real possibility that over time immune escape variants will emerge, most likely driven by increasing population immunity following natural infection. Further, the scientists at SAGE warned that vaccine efficacy after one dose should be carefully monitored to inform future vaccine policy. The report also added that vaccinated people who went on to develop COVID-19 need to have their virus genetically sequenced as quickly as possible to understand whether viral variation may explain the breakthrough.
Meanwhile, UK PM Boris Johnson recently said that the new UK mutant of the coronavirus identified in southeast England has a higher rate of mortality than the SARS-CoV-2. Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, the UK PM warned that the government might introduce broader restriction measures as the new strain detected in September might be 30 per cent deadlier than previously thought. Johnson said that the variant identified as B.1.1.7, spreads nearly 30-70 per cent faster than the dominant coronavirus strain. "It may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," the UK’s PM revealed Friday.
Furthermore, Boris Johnson’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance explained that the average fatality rate in the vulnerable age groups over 60-year-old from COVID-19 was about 10 per 1,000. However, the new variant’s fatality rate on average was found to be 13 or 14 out of 1,000. Meanwhile, Johnson added, that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is under such intense pressure, with another 40,261 positive cases since yesterday, of which 38,562 were hospitalised, nearly 78 per cent higher than the first peak in April. As many as 1,401 covid-related deaths have been reported. In a positive update, UK’s PM informed, “The vaccines we are currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant”.