How Vaccine Inequity Leads to SARS-CoV-2 VOCs With Kara O'Neal

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February 17, 2022

For this week's Teach Me in 10 episode, we're joined by Kara O'Neal, who discusses how vaccine inequity leads to viral evolution as susceptible hosts (both unvaccinated and vaccinated immunosuppressed individuals who rely on herd immunity for protection) act as “factories” for variants of concern (VOCs). The more SARS-CoV-2 is allowed to spread and infect new hosts the higher chance there is for mutations within its genome that result in VOCs. Given enough mutation it is possible for a vaccine evasive VOC to emerge. Vaccine equity is the only way to end the pandemic along with other measures such as masking, Kara explains. Kara is a fifth year PhD candidate from the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Kara studies studies the immune response to malaria. Immunology and science communication are some of her favorite things. When she isn’t in the lab, you can find her tweeting about science @kara_ash_.

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