Doctors warn lack of vaccination can lead to more lethal variant

Reporter: Sydney Persing
Published: Updated:
COVID-19 continues to spread across Southwest Florida. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Doctors are warning that if not enough people get the vaccine, a more dangerous COVID-19 variant than delta could form.

“The virus is out there and is looking for unvaccinated people to infect,” said Lee Health President and CEO Larry Antonucci.

Antonucci’s warning is clear: when more people are unvaccinated, the virus spreads easier and it spreads quicker.

During Lee Health’s weekly press conferences doctors have echoed Antonucci’s sentiment again and again.

While doctors have said some of their patients have changed their mind about the vaccine after seeing a loved one get sick, there is a worry that if vaccinations don’t increase then the vaccine may not work as well against the next variant.

“The more chance we give it to replicate the more chance we may see a worse variant, a more contagious variant or even a more lethal variant in the future,” Antonucci said.

That’s how the delta variant developed. A variant is essentially a “mistake mutation,” Antonucci explained, meaning it happens by chance.

The more opportunity the virus has to mutate, the greater the chance it will.

Does that leave the vaccinated at the mercy of the unvaccinated?

“I think the answer is yes,” said Dr. Rebekah Bernard, a family physician in Fort Myers. “My patients who are seniors, anybody that has any chronic health condition, you know people are scared because they feel like they did the right thing. They took their vaccine, they’ve been both hunkering down for all this time. And now they’re like, Oh, no, did I do all of that for nothing?”



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