Are mRNA Covid Vaccines Risky? Here’s What the Experts Say

Özlem Türeci and her husband Uğur Şahin who came up with mRNA vaccine for Pfizer. Suggested reading: Turkish German vaccine pioneers receive Germany’s highest award

Source: Bloomberg


They work in a different way from previous generations of vaccines. Instead of introducing the body to an inactivated or weakened version of a virus or a piece of it, they temporarily turn the body’s cells into tiny vaccine-making factories. They do this using synthesized versions of something called messenger RNA, a molecule that normally carries genetic coding from a cell’s DNA to its protein-making machinery. In this case, the mRNA instructs the body to make the spike protein that Sars-CoV-2 uses to enter cells. This, in turn, stimulates the body to make long-lasting antibodies to the virus. Messenger RNA vaccines are quicker to develop than traditional ones because their production doesn’t require growing viruses or viral proteins inside live cells. Also, mRNA’s modular nature makes designing new vaccines relatively straightforward. It took researchers just a few days in January 2020 to come up with the mRNA sequence used in Moderna’s Covid vaccine.

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Categories: Vaccine

4 replies

  1. As the Covid vaccine rollout continues across the UK, attention turns to the next wave of jabs that could be deployed to help vaccinate against the deadly coronavirus.

    There is expected to be a slowing down in the vaccination programme in April due to supply shortages, amid an ongoing tussle with the EU over deliveries of the AstraZeneca jab.

    The Covid vaccines developed by Astrazeneca / Oxford and Pfizer / BioNtech are currently being used as part of the UK’s rollout, with a third – Moderna – also approved for use.

  2. The CDC has named five variants as “variants of concern”: the B.1.1.7 strain from the U.K.; P.1, from Brazil; B.1.351 from South Africa, as well as B.1.427 and B.1.429, both from California. Most are more transmissible and can hamper how well drugs known as monoclonal antibodies neutralize the virus. B.1.1.7 also likely increases the disease’s severity, according to the CDC.

    Last week the U.S. added about 55,000 new daily cases on average, about a fifth of levels from the first week of January, though the number of confirmed infections inched up from the previous week. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pointed to the slight increase at a Monday briefing and said the Northeast and upper Midwest are starting to see more significant rises.

  3. The possibility of coronavirus reinfection has been a concern since the first reports of people getting sick again began popping up in 2020 ― while many around the globe were still in isolation. But there has been relatively little data up until this point on how widespread a phenomenon this is.

    The first large-scale investigation to tackle that question was published in The Lancet this week, and it found that the vast majority of people who have had COVID-19 are indeed protected from catching it again — for at least six months. However, people ages 65 and older are far more likely than younger individuals to experience repeat infection.

    The researchers analyzed data from Denmark’s national COVID-19 testing program, which has offered free PCR testing to roughly 4 million people living in the country. Overall, they found that a very small percentage of the population — 0.65% — experienced reinfection.

  4. BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) recently received a public break-up message from its favorite collaboration partner that reverberated with Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) and every other biotech with similar technology. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has decided it can make vaccines based on messenger-RNA (mRNA) for other diseases without help from BioNTech or anyone else.

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