Ask an Expert: Are the vaccinated causing more Covid-19 mutations?

Are vaccinated people driving the new variants of coronavirus that we’re seeing, like the Omicron variant everybody’s talking about?

The answer is no, vaccinated people are not driving the new variants. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Unvaccinated people and the unvaccinated populations are largely where these variants are coming from.

Here’s why, coronaviruses are all RNA-based viruses. That means that the virus has RNA as opposed to DNA making up its genome. And the reason this matters is that when RNA tries to copy itself, it’s really bad at it. RNA viruses are notoriously bad proofreaders and so each time they make a copy of themselves, there are lots of errors. Well, those errors turn into mutations.

So the more the virus is replicating, the more the virus is making copies of itself, and the more errors there are. The more errors there are, the more mutations you get, and the places and the reservoirs, where the virus is copying itself the most, are in unvaccinated populations. And that’s why it is the unvaccinated that are driving mutations, not the vaccinated.

Disclaimer: This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Jonathan Crosbie, D.O.

Dr. Crosbie is an assistant professor in the Departments of Osteopathic Medicine and Family and Internal Medicine at Des Moines University. In addition to his academic responsibilities and providing excellent patient care in the Family Medicine Clinic he is an avid activist for preventative medicine and living a healthy lifestyle. In his spare time he enjoys motorcycling, woodworking, movies and sports, and spending time with his family.

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