This article is forms part of a special issue on "research on prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases" https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/biosafety-and-health/vol/4/issue/4.
This study uncovers the evolutionary dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 at the primary stage of massive vaccination.
Although stringent non-pharmacological interventions and massive vaccination were implemented, the pandemic continues. Vaccination breakthrough infection and reinfection in convalescent COVID-19 cases were reported. Further, SARS-CoV-2 variants emerged and exhibited a trend of immune escape. The question that if the vaccination drives genetic or antigenic drifts of SARS-CoV-2 remains elusive.
Vaccination coverage was negatively related to the infections, severe cases, and deaths of COVID-19, respectively, at the primary stage of massive vaccination. Additionally, with the increasing vaccination coverage, the lineage diversity of SARS-CoV-2 dampened, but the rapid mutation rates (i.e. genetic drift) of the S gene were identified. The vaccination could be one of the explanations for lowering the genetic diversity but driving genetic drift in the S gene of SARS-CoV-2. The resurged new epidemics in several countries (e.g., USA and UK) with high vaccination coverage, questioned their pandemic control strategies and highlighted the cruciality of integrated vaccination and non-pharmacological interventions.
This study suggests massive vaccination could be one of the explanations for driving SARS-CoV-2 evolution and lowering its genetic diversity. This study suggests integrated vaccination and non-pharmacological interventions and a highly effective vaccine design to curb disease severity and infection possibility.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, Vaccine, Genetic evolution, Genetic drift, Antigenic drift, Lineage divergence, Epidemiological characteristics
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Article reference: Jing Yang, Min Han, Liang Wang, Likui Wang, Tianrui Xu, Linhuan Wu, Juncai Ma, Gary Wong, Wenjun Liu, George F. Gao, Yuhai Bi, Relatively rapid evolution rates of SARS-CoV-2 spike gene at the primary stage of massive vaccination, Biosafety and Health, Volume 4, Issue 4, 2022, Pages 228-233, ISSN 2590-0536, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bsheal.2022.07.001.