The covid 19 pandemic has increased the need to understand vaccines and how they work as a part of general awareness and vaccine safety. Vaccines help the body fight foreign invaders and pathogens such as bacteria and viruses to prevent an infection. All vaccines work by introducing a harmless virus or bacteria into the body to trigger an immune response. Many of the vaccines available today contain a weakened virus or bacteria, but scientists developed a new vaccine type that uses a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA).
It is an RNA type necessary for protein production. When introduced to cells, mRNA utilizes the information in genes to make a blueprint for making proteins, and when the cells finish making a protein, they break down the mRNA, so it doesn’t alter the DNA. Therefore individuals who get an mRNA vaccine cannot be exposed to the virus or bacteria nor infected by the vaccine. Here are the basics you need to understand about mRNA vaccines.
Many people think that the mRNA vaccine was recently introduced with the Pfizer covid 19 vaccines. But the mRNA technology has been existing for a while. The history of mRNA vaccine dates back to 2011. mRNA vaccines trick the human body into making the viral protein itself which then triggers an immune response. The technology can be used rapidly, so clinical trials have been successful in the current covid 19 pandemic.
One misconception about mRNA vaccines that has significantly spread, especially with the covid 19 vaccines, is that they alter your DNA. That idea is not accurate, and it is not based on scientific evidence. An mRNA vaccine does not enter the nucleus of the cells, which is where the DNA is. When the mRNA vaccine enters the body cell, it degrades quickly and stays in the body for few days. That is why many mRNA vaccines are administered twice for one to develop a strong immune response.
Another thing you ought to learn about mRNA vaccines is that they are precise. Let’s look at the case of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus. It has an intricate structure, and various parts of the virus cause the immune system to produce antibodies to neutralize the virus. When a person who is not vaccinated catches the virus, they produce antibodies that prevent the virus from attacking human cells. In some cases, the antibodies do not have any impact, and in others, the antibodies may help the virus enter cells.
mRNA vaccines are specific in that they trigger an immune response to the spike protein of the virus, which is one component of the viral membrane that helps the virus enter the cells.
The FDA approves mRNA vaccines before they are rolled out for use. Currently, the mRNA vaccines for covid 19 use mRNA that directs cells to produce copies of a protein outside coronavirus known as spike protein to trigger an immune response. Researchers are also conducting studies on how mRNA can be used to develop vaccines for such infectious diseases.