Expert’s warning: Coronavirus mutation can only happen among unvaccinated, immunocompromised
MANILA, Philippines — Mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can only happen among unvaccinated individuals and the immunocompromised, an infectious disease expert said Thursday.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit of San Lazaro Hospital and member of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP), explained that the virus may mutate as it stays longer in the bodies of the unvaccinated and those with compromised immune systems.
“In general, vaccines still work. That’s the importance why we need to vaccinate everyone, especially for those unvaccinated because mutation will only occur among those that are unvaccinated, among those that are immunocompromised. So we need protection among these populations so that there will be less mutation and less transmission of this COVID-19 virus,” Solante said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.
Solante stressed that those not vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have enough antibodies against the coronavirus.
“If you are unvaccinated, you don’t have antibodies. Your antibody is not enough to protect you, especially among the immunocompromised and the elderly population. This is where the virus can take advantage of their immune system, that poor ability to recognize them,” he explained.
“Being in that body longer, they will be able to adapt by mutating so that they can be there in the body longer, and this is where mutations can occur. This is where people that are not vaccinated, who are immunocompromised, they will be the reservoir of these viruses.
“Chances are they will be the one source of this infection and at the same time, they can also be at high risk of getting a more severe infection,” said Solante.
Solante encouraged everyone, especially the vulnerable population, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to get booster shots after their primary vaccination series.
The VEP member made the reminder as the Philippines reports four confirmed cases of the Omicron variant from travelers from other countries.
The World Health Organization earlier said the Omicron variant has 50 mutations overall, including 32 that are in the spike protein, suggesting its ability to increase virus transmissibility and affect vaccines.
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