The phrase going to the well too often is meant to be a warning about depleting a precious resource. It is also used to warn against relying on luck. After all luck is a very scarce commodity. Counting on it is foolish. We got lucky with Omicron, it is a very mild vaccine resistant strain. It could have been much worse. We need to stop going to the vaccine well. The next time we might not be so lucky.
First, I need to start this discussion with a disclaimer. I am not a vaccinologist or virologist. I am an engineer trained in a completely unrelated field. So I am not an expert but I can use logic and what follows is my logical analysis of our incredibly good luck with omicron and why we should not look for a vaccine for it.
Viruses always mutate. Each replication is not perfect. The mutation that becomes the most successful depends on how transmissible it is and how deadly it is. The two attributes go hand in hand. Deadly viruses don’t tend to spread very far. If people become too sick to move around the virus cannot spread. So the evolutionary pressure on a virus is for it to become more transmissible and less deadly. The only way to screw this up is by overusing a non-sterilizing vaccine.
The COVID vaccines are non-sterilizing vaccines. By design they cannot prevent infection. Infection starts in the airways and the antibodies are in your blood stream. The infection is already going before the antibodies see it. The vaccines add another highly unpredictable variable to the evolutionary mix.
It is no longer the most transmissible and least deadly virus that wins the race. The mutation that wins is the one that the vaccine affects the least. It is not necessarily less deadly, we simply got lucky that omicron is less deadly. We should stop relying on luck. If we keep reformulating the vaccines for each new variant it is only a matter of time before we produce an extremely lethal vaccine resistant mutation.
We need to count our omicron blessings and stop this madness now before we create a monster.