The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that the process of global vaccination against a novel virus can be a prolonged one. Social distancing measures, that are initially adopted to control the pandemic, are gradually relaxed as vaccination progresses and population immunity increases. The result is a prolonged period of high disease prevalence combined with a fitness advantage for vaccine-resistant variants, which together lead to a considerably increased probability for vaccine escape. A spatial vaccination strategy is proposed that has the potential to dramatically reduce this risk. Rather than dispersing the vaccination effort evenly throughout a country, distinct geographic regions of the country are sequentially vaccinated, quickly bringing each to effective herd immunity. Regions with high vaccination rates will then have low infection rates and vice versa. Since people primarily interact within their own region, spatial vaccination reduces the number of encounters between infected individuals (the source of mutations) and vaccinated individuals (who facilitate the spread of vaccine-resistant strains). Thus, spatial vaccination may help mitigate the global risk of vaccine-resistant variants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Molecular Biology
- Computational Theory and Mathematics
- Modeling and Simulation