The analysis has not been peer-reviewed, initial research is theoretical and provides no evidence that this variant is in circulation now. Documents like this are published “as pre-printed publications that have provided the government with rapid evidence during an emergency.”
The document is dated July 26 and was published by the British government on Friday.
Scientists write that because virus eradication is “unlikely,” they have “a lot of confidence” that variants will continue to appear. They say it is “almost certain” that there will be “a gradual or punctuated accumulation of antigenic variations that will eventually lead to the failure of the current vaccine.”
They recommend that authorities continue to reduce virus transmission as much as possible to reduce the possibility of a new vaccine-resistant variant.
They also recommend that research focus on new vaccines that not only prevent hospital admission and disease, but also “induce high and lasting levels of immunity to the mucosa.”
The goal, they say, should be to “reduce infection and transmission of vaccinated people” and “reduce the possibility of selection of variants in vaccinated individuals.” Several companies that manufacture Covid-19 vaccines are already being investigated to address new variants.
Opinions were expressed in a paper “by a group of academics on scenarios for the long-term evolution of SARS-CoV-2”, and were discussed and published by the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
They write that some variants that have appeared in recent months “show a reduced susceptibility to the immunity acquired by the vaccine, although none seems to escape completely.”
But they warn that these variants arose “before vaccination became widespread” and that “as vaccines become more widespread, the advantage of transmission obtained by a virus that can elude the immunity acquired by the vaccine will increase.”
This is a problem that SAGE has already noticed before.
Within minutes of the July 7 meeting, SAGE scientists wrote that “the combination of high prevalence and high levels of vaccination creates the conditions under which a variant of immune escape is more likely to occur.” He said at the time that “the likelihood of this happening is unknown, but this variant would pose a significant risk both in the UK and internationally”.