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  1. Vaccines provide powerful tools to mitigate the enormous public health and economic costs that the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to exert globally, yet vaccine distribution remains unequal among countries. To examine the potential epidemiological and evolutionary impacts of ‘vaccine nationalism’, we extend previous models to include simple scenarios of stockpiling between two regions. In general, when vaccines are widely available and the immunity they confer is robust, sharing doses minimizes total cases across regions. A number of subtleties arise when the populations and transmission rates in each region differ, depending on evolutionary assumptions and vaccine availability. When the waning ofmore »natural immunity contributes most to evolutionary potential, sustained transmission in low access regions results in an increased potential for antigenic evolution, which may result in the emergence of novel variants that affect epidemiological characteristics globally. Overall, our results stress the importance of rapid equitable vaccine distribution for global control of the pandemic.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 17, 2022
  2. Pathogens evolve different life-history strategies, which depend in part on differences in their host populations. A central feature of hosts is their population structure (e.g. spatial). Additionally, hosts themselves can exhibit different degrees of symptoms when newly infected; this latency is a key life-history property of pathogens. With an evolutionary-epidemiological model, we examine the role of population structure on the evolutionary dynamics of latency. We focus on specific power-law-like formulations for transmission and progression from the first infectious stage as a function of latency, assuming that the across-group to within-group transmission ratio increases if hosts are less symptomatic. We findmore »that simple population heterogeneity can lead to local evolutionarily stable strategies (ESSs) at zero and infinite latency in situations where a unique ESS exists in the corresponding homogeneous case. Furthermore, there can exist more than one interior evolutionarily singular strategy. We find that this diversity of outcomes is due to the (possibly slight) advantage of across-group transmission for pathogens that produce fewer symptoms in a first infectious stage. Thus, our work reveals that allowing individuals without symptoms to travel can have important unintended evolutionary effects and is thus fundamentally problematic in view of the evolutionary dynamics of latency.« less
  3. Sills, Jennifer (Ed.)
  4. In the face of vaccine dose shortages and logistical challenges, various deployment strategies are being proposed to increase population immunity levels to SARS-CoV-2. Two critical issues arise: how will the timing of delivery of the second dose affect both infection dynamics and prospects for the evolution of viral immune escape via a build-up of partially immune individuals. Both hinge on the robustness of the immune response elicited by a single dose, compared to natural and two-dose immunity. Building on an existing immuno-epidemiological model, we find that in the short-term, focusing on one dose generally decreases infections, but longer-term outcomes dependmore »on this relative immune robustness. We then explore three scenarios of selection and find that a one-dose policy may increase the potential for antigenic evolution under certain conditions of partial population immunity. We highlight the critical need to test viral loads and quantify immune responses after one vaccine dose, and to ramp up vaccination efforts throughout the world.« less
  5. null (Ed.)
  6. SARS-CoV-2 is an international public health emergency; high transmissibility and morbidity and mortality can result in the virus overwhelming health systems. Combinations of social distancing, and test, trace, and isolate strategies can reduce the number of new infections per infected individual below 1, thus driving declines in case numbers, but may be both challenging and costly. These interventions must also be maintained until development and (now likely) mass deployment of a vaccine (or therapeutics), since otherwise, many susceptible individuals are still at risk of infection. We use a simple analytical model to explore how low levels of infection, combined withmore »vaccination, determine the trajectory to community immunity. Understanding the repercussions of the biological characteristics of the viral life cycle in this scenario is of considerable importance. We provide a simple description of this process by modelling the scenario where the effective reproduction number R eff is maintained at 1. Since the additional complexity imposed by the strength and duration of transmission-blocking immunity is not yet clear, we use our framework to probe the impact of these uncertainties. Through intuitive analytical relations, we explore how the necessary magnitude of vaccination rates and mitigation efforts depends crucially on the durations of natural and vaccinal immunity. We also show that our framework can encompass seasonality or preexisting immunity due to epidemic dynamics prior to strong mitigation measures. Taken together, our simple conceptual model illustrates the importance of individual and vaccinal immunity for community immunity, and that the quantification of individuals immunized against SARS-CoV-2 is paramount.« less
  7. Pathogens have evolved a variety of life-history strategies. An important strategy consists of successful transmission by an infected host before the appearance of symptoms, that is, while the host is still partially or fully asymptomatic. During this initial stage of infection, it is possible for another pathogen to superinfect an already infected host and replace the previously infecting pathogen. Here, we study the effect of superinfection during the first stage of an infection on the evolutionary dynamics of the degree to which the host is asymptomatic (host latency) in that same stage. We find that superinfection can lead to majormore »differences in evolutionary behaviour. Most strikingly, the duration of immunity following infection can significantly influence pathogen evolutionary dynamics, whereas without superinfection the outcomes are independent of host immunity. For example, changes in host immunity can drive evolutionary transitions from a fully symptomatic to a fully asymptomatic first infection stage. Additionally, if superinfection relative to susceptible infection is strong enough, evolution can lead to a unique strategy of latency that corresponds to a local fitness minimum, and is therefore invasible by nearby mutants. Thus, this strategy is a branching point, and can lead to coexistence of pathogens with different latencies. Furthermore, in this new framework with superinfection, we also find that there can exist two interior singular strategies. Overall, new evolutionary outcomes can cascade from superinfection.« less
  8. Background: COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and made available. While questions of vaccine allocation strategies have received significant attention, important questions remain regarding the potential impact of the vaccine given uncertainties regarding efficacy against transmission, availability, timing, and durability. Methods: We adapted a susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) model to examine the potential impact on hospitalization and mortality assuming increasing rates of vaccine efficacy, coverage, and administration. We also evaluated the uncertainty of the vaccine to prevent infectiousness as well as the impact on outcomes based on the timing of distribution and the potential effects of waning immunity. Findings: Increased vaccine efficacy againstmore »disease reduces hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19; however, the relative benefit of transmission blocking varied depending on the timing of vaccine distribution. Early in an outbreak, a vaccine that reduces transmission will be relatively more effective than one introduced later in the outbreak. In addition, earlier and accelerated implementation of a less effective vaccine is more impactful than later implementation of a more effective vaccine. These findings are magnified when considering the durability of the vaccine. Vaccination in the spring will be less impactful when immunity is less durable. Interpretation: Policy choices regarding non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social distancing and face mask use, will need to remain in place longer if the vaccine is less effective at reducing transmission or distributed slower. In addition, the stage of the local outbreak greatly impacts the overall effectiveness of the vaccine in a region and should be considered when allocating vaccines.« less
  9. Despite vast improvements in global vaccination coverage during the last decade, there is a growing trend in vaccine hesitancy and/or refusal globally. This has implications for the acceptance and coverage of a potential vaccine against COVID-19. In the United States, the number of children exempt from vaccination for “philosophical belief-based” non-medical reasons increased in 12 of the 18 states that allowed this policy from 2009 to 2017 ( 1 ). Meanwhile, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, especially in young children, have led to increasing rates of drug resistance that threaten our ability to treat infectious diseases. Vaccine hesitancy andmore »antibiotic overuse exist side-by-side in the same population of young children, and it is unclear why one modality (antibiotics) is universally seen as safe and effective, while the other (vaccines) is seen as potentially hazardous by some. In this review, we consider the drivers shaping the use of vaccines and antibiotics in the context of three factors: individual incentives, risk perceptions, and social norms and group dynamics. We illustrate how these factors contribute to the societal and individual costs of vaccine underuse and antimicrobial overuse. Ultimately, we seek to understand these factors that are at the nexus of infectious disease epidemiology and social science to inform policy-making.« less
  10. The future trajectory of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic hinges on the dynamics of adaptive immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); however, salient features of the immune response elicited by natural infection or vaccination are still uncertain. We use simple epidemiological models to explore estimates for the magnitude and timing of future COVID-19 cases, given different assumptions regarding the protective efficacy and duration of the adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV-2, as well as its interaction with vaccines and nonpharmaceutical interventions. We find that variations in the immune response to primary SARS-CoV-2 infections and a potential vaccinemore »can lead to markedly different immune landscapes and burdens of critically severe cases, ranging from sustained epidemics to near elimination. Our findings illustrate likely complexities in future COVID-19 dynamics and highlight the importance of immunological characterization beyond the measurement of active infections for adequately projecting the immune landscape generated by SARS-CoV-2 infections.« less