While vaccination efforts are going strong in countries around the world, anti-vaxxers have been dampening their efforts by refusing to get jabbed. According to William Schaffner, a professor in the infectious disease unit and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the US, more and more variants will surface due to unvaccinatedpeople. He said:
Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories.
The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities the virus has to multiply.
He explains that because the variants evolve in infected persons, the chances of it mutating into dangerous forms are higher if the whole population is not properly jabbed.
For example, a mutation can help a virus to be more transmissible and when it spreads to another person, the mutation replicates along with the virus. As it continues to make its way into different people, it eventually becomes a highly transmissible variant.
Thus, having large groups of unvaccinated people will only provide the virus with more opportunities to mutate into worrying strains. Andrew Pkosz, microbiologist and immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told CNN:
As mutations emerge in viruses, the ones that persist are the ones that facilitate the spread of the virus in the population.
Every time the virus changes, it has a different platform to add more mutations. We now have viruses that spread more efficiently.
As of now, there are already several variants of COVID circulating in different parts of the world. Four have been named as ‘variants of concern’ by the World Health Organisation—Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and the deadliest of them all, Delta.
Scientists are particularly concerned with the Delta variant because it has been found to be highly transmissible, cause severe symptoms, and it could potentially evade immune protection. While experts are worried about this variant’s threat to the vaccinated population, they are even more afraid of what it could do in communities with low vaccination rates.
The variant has already mutated into 'Delta Plus' in Nepal where the a majority of the population remains unvaccinated.