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Covid-19: Single vaccine dose is 33% effective against variant from India, data show

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1346 (Published 25 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1346

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Re: Covid-19: Single vaccine dose is 33% effective against variant from India, data show

Dear Editor,

I read with a mix of interest and sadness the article on the spread of the new vaccine-resistant variant in India.

Reading the whole slew of articles about the arms-race that has ensued in our fight against the variants (see [1], [2], [3] for others) has made me wonder to what extent our (1) behavioural modifications and (2) mass vaccination programme have contributed to the emergence of transmissible and vaccine-resistant variants.

Given the fact that our novel-technology vaccines are aimed at a very specific antigen of the virus, as opposed to inducing a wide immune response (e.g. through responses to live attenuated virus or natural infection), one would imagine it is not evolutionarily expensive for the virus to change its signature to become undetectable and thus resistant. Thus, it is hard to see how we would be able to emerge victorious from this arms-race. Is this time for us to pause and rethink our strategy?

I look forward to hearing the opinions of other enlightened scientists in this matter.

[1] Delta variant now dominant strain in UK, BMJ, https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1445?int_source=trendmd&int_medium=...
[2] Vaccines to be tested against variants, BMJ, https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1163?int_source=trendmd&int_medium=...
[3] Variant-vaccine race in the US, GenomeWeb, https://www.genomeweb.com/scan/variant-vaccine-race-us?utm_source=TrendM...

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 June 2021
Ferenc Gutai
Student
Dundee, UK