Understanding mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

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First we have to address the COVID vaccine hesitancy 

Elements burdening acknowledgment incorporate worries about adverse events, viability, and related expenses. In any case, health providers assume a significant part in addressing the patient's concerns. The FDA delivered its itemized review of the Pfizer/BioNTech clinical information for their COVID-19 immunization participants. The office revealed no severe health concerns. As with other types of immunizations, minor adverse events, with most of the study participants, suffered injection site reactions, short-term fatigue, and headaches.

Another issue that we need to address; the speed COVID-19 vaccines moved through the development phase. The traditional vaccine development process takes years; for the COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer followed the same steps of the conventional vaccine development with one difference; that the manufacturer conducted phase 2 and 3 trials simultaneously. This article in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds light on the Pfizer vaccine's safety and efficacy.

Timeline of COVID

In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak of unknown cause occurred in Wuhan, China. In January 2020, it became clear that a novel Coronavirus covid-19 was the underlying cause. In early January 2020, the genetic sequence of the covid-19 became available to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the public. The WHO categorized the virus in the Betacoronavirus subfamily. Scientific analysis revealed a closer relationship to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus isolates than to other coronaviruses that infect humans, including the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

https://www.pfizer.com/news/hot-topics/covid_19 vaccine_u_s_distribution_fact_sheet

Mechanism of action of mRNA vaccines

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines: Messenger mRNA is coated in a lipid nanoparticle to go incognito inside the human body. Then the injected mRNA finds a cell, the ribosomes inside the cell will begin working to make the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The immune system takes over to mount a response against the protein, creating immunity.

Basically, rather than making the proteins, mRNA enrolls the body to accomplish the work.

The trials involving the COVID vaccine

Studies included healthy adults. Diverse ethnic backgrounds participated in the clinical trials. The study had few individuals older than 65, people with stable chronic conditions, and Young people 16 years. More studies will include younger people in the future.

Traditional vaccines typically include injection with antigens, for example, proteins or polysaccharides or inactivated/weakened viruses. mRNA vaccines work differently. They don't contain antigens. They have a diagram for the antigen as genetic material, mRNA. On account of Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines, the mRNA gives the genetic data to make the spike protein that the SARS-CoV-2 infection uses to append to and taint human cells. Each kind of immunization is coated with lipid nanoparticles to shield the mRNA from fast degradation. The nanoparticles serve as an adjuvant to activate the immune system.

The technical aspect

When injected into the muscle, the lipid nanoparticles containing the mRNA inside enter the muscle cells. The ribosomes inside the cell interact with the mRNA and make the spike protein antigen. The critical point is that the mRNA doesn't enter the nucleus. And doesn't interact with the cell's DNA.

After the cell makes the spike protein, the cell breaks down the mRNA strand and disposes of them using enzymes. It is important to note that the mRNA strand never enters the cell's nucleus or affects genetic material. This information helps counter misinformation about how mRNA vaccines alter or modify someone's genetic makeup. Once displayed on the cell surface, the protein or antigen causes the immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. These antibodies are specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which means the immune system is ready to protect against future infection.


The good news

The SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine from Pfizer prompted robust immune responses in clinical trials. Results for Moderna's vaccine will be available shortly and should be in line with the Pfizer vaccine. mRNA vaccines' advantage is the speed at which they can be designed and produced. According to the WHO, the challenge is speed: developing and manufacturing a vaccine and getting it to persons who need it as quickly as possible. 

One more thing we need to know in the near future; How long does the Duration of immunity last? Is there a need to revaccinate after the initial vaccination?

There are more than 100 vaccines in development for SARS-CoV-2, and that's good news. Testing various vaccine technologies is vital for two reasons. The first is obvious; to ensure sufficient supply and the other, which is equally important as the preceding, could lead to better product selection and safety profiles better tolerated in various patient population groups. Like any other medication, if you're allergic to one, there is an alternative. Different vaccine antigens and technologies also will address a pressing issue, how long will vaccines protect us against the covid infection and the need for regular vaccination like the seasonal flu vaccine

A new perspective

A season of sickness and a season for health. Nothing better than now to take a second look at family and friends, what's essential and what's just fluff. We should focus on happier and healthier more. A healthy diet and a good dose of exercise go a long way to manage anxiety and other mental health issues.

If you've taken a DNA test, you can use your DNA results to understand how DNA impacts medications.

It's time to be active participants in our health!

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