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Monday 19th April 2021 to Tuesday 20th April 2021

Background

 
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently being rolled out in the UK and globally, but there is a limited supply available. Therefore, countries are having to prioritise which subgroups of the population will receive the vaccine first. For example, in the UK vaccination has been targeted at the older age groups, health-care workers and those that are at greater risk of needing hospitalisation as a result of contracting COVID-19. Such a strategy is focused on reducing disease rather than transmission, since currently the impacts of the vaccine on blocking transmission are still uncertain.
 
At the same time, the virus is evolving with a number of new more transmissible variants, for example B117 and B1351, emerging in recent months. It is commonly accepted that the use of vaccines can result in novel selective pressure on pathogen populations, often resulting in the emergence of resistant genotypes. Therefore, it is important to consider the evolutionary implications of vaccination programmes. In particular, as more vaccine doses become available it is important to consider the optimal design of vaccination programmes to not only minimise disease or transmission, but also to minimise the risk of the emergence of COVID-19 variants that are resistant to the vaccine.
 
This event was the first delivered by the Newton Gateway in its key role in the RAMP Continuity Network (a UKRI funded project) to deliver a series of meetings, workshops and virtual study groups that react to key priority areas in the UK’s response to the current pandemic. This event was guided by links with groups such as the JUNIPER consortium and the Isaac Newton Institute Infectious Dynamics of Pandemics research programme to ensure relevance to current UK policy, and ensure engagement with the wider mathematical modelling and epidemiology communities.
 

Aims and Objectives

 
This workshop focused on the use of quantitative modelling approaches to understand the evolutionary implications of vaccination programmes. Such approaches are key to developing optimal vaccination strategies and understanding which subgroups in society should be prioritised for vaccination against COVD-19.

The aim of these 2 afternoon sessions was to understand the potential implications of different vaccination strategies on the evolutionary dynamics of COVID-19. A key goal of this event was to build links between epidemic modellers and the wider modelling community with interests in COVID-19, such as within-host modelling teams – including, but not limited to members of RAMP-initiated projects.

The Programme is available here.