Vaccination Spurs Virus Evolution

A report published online in Vaccine suggests that the bird-flu virus is mutating faster in countries that have implemented large-scale but incomplete vaccination of poultry. This supports a theory that has been floating in scientific circles for some time: where 100% of the population is not vaccinated, there is a higher likelihood that the virus will evolve to become immune to the vaccine and therefore become even more deadly.

In other words, a virus may become deadlier in a country with an incomplete vaccination program than in a country without any such program to begin with.

This study has far-reaching implications for vaccine safety. Although it dealt with populations of poultry, it applies to people as well: it would be impossible to vaccinate 100% of, say, the American population (due to lack of sufficient vaccines, allergies on the part of some people, etc.) even if the right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated was removed (and the country basically became a police state). In this situation, we seem to be setting ourselves up for more and more dangerous outbreaks, which would be less likely if we did not follow a rigorous vaccination program to begin with.

It’s unlikely, however, that this interpretation of the study will be espoused by our medical and political authorities, since it would cut severely into pharmaceutical profits. Be prepared, then, to see an even bigger push to vaccinate more and more people, regardless of appropriateness, in the coming years.

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