COVID-19 vaccines are not powerful enough to stop the emergence of new and more infectious variants and precautionary measures must be followed to prevent the virus from spreading, a new study found.
The study conducted by researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, published in Nature Scientific Reports, found that preventative measures such as social distancing and mask wearing are necessary along with vaccination in order to mitigate the threat of new variants emerging.
As seen in the past year, the virus will continue to change and new variants will continue to emerge. But the study found that if more people adhere to rules while the world continues to get vaccinated, the virus will eventually stop changing.
“We found that a fast rate of vaccination decreases the probability of emergency of a resistant strain,” the study stated.
“Counterintuitively, when a relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions happened at a time when most individuals of the population have already been vaccinated the probability of emergence of a resistant strain was greatly increased.”
The researchers added that their findings suggested that “policymakers and individuals should consider maintaining non-pharmaceutical interventions and transmission-reducing behaviors throughout the entire vaccination period.”
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released an internal report which found that the Delta variant was far more transmissible than older strains and that it could cause severe disease, a finding which has also been backed by the new study.
The report added that there was evidence that those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could still transmit the Delta variant as easily as unvaccinated individuals. However, it added that vaccines were still effective at protecting people against a severe infection, hospitalization, or death.
The CDC last week advised Americans to wear protective masks indoors, namely in areas where the risk of virus transmission is “high” or “substantial.”
Although COVID-19 infections have mainly been occurring in unvaccinated people, the health agency estimates that 35,000 vaccinated individuals in the US could be getting infected with the virus each week.