Imperfect vaccines and the evolution of pathogen virulence

S. Gandon, M. J. Mackinnon, S. Nee, Andrew Fraser Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

360 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Vaccines rarely provide full protection from disease. Nevertheless, partially effective (imperfect) vaccines may be used to protect both individuals and whole populations. We studied the potential impact of different types of imperfect vaccines on the evolution of pathogen virulence (induced host mortality) and the consequences for public health. Here we show that vaccines designed to reduce pathogen growth rate and/or toxicity diminish selection against virulent pathogens. The subsequent evolution leads to higher levels of intrinsic virulence and hence to more severe disease in unvaccinated individuals. This evolution can erode any population-wide benefits such that overall mortality rates are unaffected, or even increase, with the level of vaccination coverage. In contrast, infection-blocking vaccines induce no such effects, and can even select for lower virulence. These findings have policy implications for the development and use of vaccines that are not expected to provide full immunity, such as candidate vaccines for malaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-756
Number of pages6
JournalNature
Volume414
Issue number6865
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 13 2001

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Virulence
Vaccines
Malaria Vaccines
Mortality
Policy Making
Population
Immunity
Vaccination
Public Health
Growth
Infection

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

Gandon, S. ; Mackinnon, M. J. ; Nee, S. ; Read, Andrew Fraser. / Imperfect vaccines and the evolution of pathogen virulence. In: Nature. 2001 ; Vol. 414, No. 6865. pp. 751-756.
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Gandon, S, Mackinnon, MJ, Nee, S & Read, AF 2001, 'Imperfect vaccines and the evolution of pathogen virulence', Nature, vol. 414, no. 6865, pp. 751-756. https://doi.org/10.1038/414751a

Imperfect vaccines and the evolution of pathogen virulence. / Gandon, S.; Mackinnon, M. J.; Nee, S.; Read, Andrew Fraser.

In: Nature, Vol. 414, No. 6865, 13.12.2001, p. 751-756.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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