A brief look at the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine

What is different about mRNA vaccines?

Previously, vaccines were used to release a harmless or weakened version of the pathogen in our bodies. Then this virus was used to train our immune system to defeat its harmful counterpart. mRNA vaccines have a more direct approach. Instead of carrying the weaker chain of the virus, it directs single-stranded mRNA molecules that are naturally present in all of our cells to create a specific protein. The mentioned protein is more or less identical to the one with SARS-CoV-2, but it is deprived of harmful elements and cannot be protected from the immune system. After completing the training of our defense system, it dissolves harmlessly, leaving a healthy body.

Advantages

There are two parts to our immune system. The first is innate, these are the defenses we were born with. The second is acquired, which we develop after contact with new diseases. The classic vaccine can only work with the acquired part of our system, acting effectively at 50% of capacity. However, mRNA can be programmed to activate our innate defense system as well, effectively doubling our defense system.

Prof. Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding is Head of Microbiology at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicine, Langen, Germany. In an interview with European Commission magazine Horizon, she said: “All types of innate immune cells are activated by mRNA. This prepares the immune system to prepare for a threatening pathogen and therefore the type of immune response that is triggered is very strong.”

In the future, mRNA can be used theatrically to fight even more deadly diseases, such as cancer and HIV.

Risks

Since vaccine mRNAs are only now beginning to be tested on humans, there are many unknowns regarding treatment. Misconceptions about his method are also widespread, and criminals spread rumors because they can change DNA, which something can’t do. More human interrogation will eliminate the former, while the latter needs to be fought with education and the fight against fake news.

Currently, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have undergone safety tests in human clinical trials, with the Chinese Sinovac vaccine at a late stage of testing. If approved for human use, the easy scalability of this type of vaccine means that by the end of 2021, it could be possible to eliminate the risk of covidia.

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