Genesis of a Virus: Vaccines a Double-Edged Sword if ‘Leaky’

Defective vaccines may lead to even more powerful viruses and ‘hot’ viral strains, according to a new study. “Perfect” vaccines have been protecting humans against polio, mumps, measles or smallpox, but it’s the “leaky” ones, which we may have to start worrying about.

But the story doesn’t go as many anti-vaccination advocates would narrate. It’s time to inject a dose of authenticity into this rumor-driven debate. Yes, it’s true, first the first time, researchers have proved the highly controversial theory that some vaccines could allow more-virulent versions of a virus to survive. Yet unvaccinated individuals would be the ones at greater risk of severe illness.

Leaky vaccines can promote nasty virus

“Our research demonstrates that the use of leaky vaccines can promote the evolution of nastier ‘hot’ viral strains that put unvaccinated individuals at greater risk,” said co-author Venugopal Nair of the Pirbright Institute in the UK.

The researchers claim that current standard vaccines are safe and effective. Yet, they warned that next-generation vaccines could have lethal downsides if they are less-than-perfect. What if viral diseases as deadly as Ebola evolve?

For now, this so-called leakiness only exists in vaccines used to treat animals.

How was the experiment conducted?

During the experiment study published in PLOS Biology, which was conducted on chickens, researchers followed the evolution of the herpes virus that causes Marek’s disease in poultry.

If in the 1950s, the virus was considered close to harmless, it has managed to evolve into a killer one, able to decimate entire flocks of unvaccinated birds within 10 days. The virus causing avian influenza can be even worse, as farmers in Southeast Asia used leaky vaccines.

This is not an anti-vaccination rhetoric

According to Peter Openshaw from Imperial College in London, it is crucial not to interpret this as an “argument against vaccination”.

The study actually recommends vaccination for individual protection. Children must continue to get vaccinated against flu and other diseases, researchers said.

Following the recent implementation of strict vaccination laws in California, backlash began across the nation, with comedian Jim Carrey unleashing a Tweet denouncing the governor as a “corporate fascist,” and anti-vaccination groups began to scheme about how to take down the law.

Many labeled the vaccine controversy as a debate over public health and personal liberty. However, this recent study aimed at shedding a light on the importance of carrying out rigorous testing and vigilant monitoring of next-generation vaccines.

What do you think of vaccines and this recent discovery? Share your views in the comments section below.

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