mRNA vaccines: How does it work?
At present, three companies distribute their COVID-19 Vaccines into the Czech Republic. Namely, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Of these, Pfizer and Moderna use a kind of vaccine known as a mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine.
Due to the speed at which the vaccines were made, and the fact that mRNA vaccines are based on relatively new technology, many people are reluctant to take the vaccines or outright don’t trust them.
A factor that isn’t helping is that the internet is full of shocking “facts” about said mRNA vaccines. These claims include statements such as “the vaccines were in development for a short time and thus shouldn’t be trusted,” “the scientists making them had to skip over safety protocol,” “They will cause autoimmune diseases,” or even more out-there theories, for example the notion that they will cause “permanent genetic damage.” All of these statements are false and baseless.
This article will attempt to explain how an mRNA vaccine works and how it differs from a “traditional” vaccine, and to provide reasons why you shouldn’t fear them.
As said before, mRNA vaccines work differently from traditional vaccines, which come in many different forms, but the principle of how they work is usually almost the same:
1. A pathogen (virus or bacteria) that is either weak or dead, a part of it or a substance it produces is injected into the body
2. The body “learns” to fight the pathogens by producing the antibodies necessary to fight the pathogen
3. The body can now recognise the pathogen and is able to protect itself from being infected by it.
This is not the case for mRNA vaccines. A mRNA vaccine uses an entirely different process. There is one main difference- mRNA vaccines do not contain the pathogen, its parts or anything produced by it. Instead, it contains a dose of mRNA, coated in fat. Messenger RNA is a double-strand molecule that holds information on how to create proteins. It is necessary for our bodies to work, as we wouldn’t have any proteins without them.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain a synthetic piece of mRNA, which is a copy of those used by the COVID-19 virus to produce its spike proteins.
1. The vaccine is injected into a muscle.
2. A muscle cell takes the mRNA in, using the “instructions” in the mRNA to construct a spike protein, which is also a part of the COVID-19 virus.
3. The new spike protein is displayed on the outside of the cell.
4. The immune system recognizes something is wrong, because the protein shouldn’t look like this.
5. Antibodies are produced and immune cells learn to get rid of the spike protein.
6. The mRNA is dissolved after its instructions have been taken in.
7. When the body is infected with the COVID-19 virus, it can eliminate it without problem.
The main difference is that mRNA vaccines, unlike traditional vaccines, do not contain any pathogens. All they do is trick the body into producing specific proteins, unique to the pathogen, and the body produces the antibodies because it perceives them as a foreign threat.
Contrary to some beliefs, the mRNA vaccines do not alter genetic information. They do not even reach the cell nucleus, in which the DNA is located. They only provide instructions on building proteins and then are taken apart. They have no way of inflicting any harm on our genetic information.
People sometimes mistrust them because they were developed faster than other vaccines. This is only partly true - while the COVID-19 Vaccines owned by Pfizer and Moderna are the first approved mRNA vaccines, the technology used to develop them is not rushed. Attempts to use synthetic mRNA in healthcare have been happening since 2011.
In conclusion, there is nothing to fear from the new mRNA vaccines, as there isn’t any proof of it negatively affecting the human body.
Written by Gabriel
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