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  • Writer's pictureKatie Galloway

What you should know about the Coronavirus vaccines

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

What you should know about the vaccines (a thread): The vaccine news is remarkable! The speed was enabled by decades of research and months of tireless, focused effort by companies with the green light by the government. The result is a stunning achievement and some much needed hope of relief from this horribly destructive virus. Still, I know you all are cautious, concerned, and maybe confused about the vaccine... here's some things I think you should know... (see comments below) Note: this is just a quick adaptation of a post. Details can probably improve...don't @ me bro!

Good news here!

First, the vaccine is a lipid nanoparticle that delivers mRNA. What does that mean?

Normally, we deliver peptides (parts of proteins from viruses) for vaccines and this "teaches" your immune system to recognize them. But in this case, we are delivering the mRNA that encodes for a peptide. The mRNA is released inside the cell.

So what does the mRNA do? Well, your clever cells recognize that this mRNA is like the mRNA that they normally turn into proteins and peptides. So the ribosome translates the mRNA into the encoded peptide. In a relatively short amount of time, you have the peptide in the cell and the mRNA is degraded just like other mRNAs inside your cells.

Ok, so at this point this vaccine becomes a lot like the normal vaccines that we have (but we have been very clever to get the cells to make the peptide for us instead of going through the time-consuming process of making and purifying it, which would be slow. This innovation is why pfizer and moderna have been fast to get this vaccine made). The peptide is loaded onto a receptor in the cell and presented on the cell surface where it can be recognized.

When an immune cells comes through and "sees" the peptide presented on the cell surface, it recognizes it as dangerous and triggers cells that produce antibodies (that also recognize the peptide) to expand and produce antibodies.

Now that you have these cells expanded, when Coronavirus (yes, ok, SARS-Cov2, specifically) comes around, your cells are ready and antibodies start labeling the virus and "neutralizing" the virus by attacking it and preventing it from infecting your cells. This significantly limits the effect of the virus. Woot! You are immune and you are much less able to get sick or sicken others! That's great news! And if you get sick, your sickness is likely to be way less severe. Hurray for the vaccine!

But why I am I telling you this? (Trust me I have other things to do...but fortunately Lego Batman brings a few minutes of peace.). I have seen people saying this vaccine "changes your DNA." This is just not true in any you can see above, there isn't even any DNA involved! You are more likely to change your DNA by being in the sunlight (and I got references for that!). But just as sunlight can have negative effects, it's good effects totally outweigh the negative IMHO. The same is true for vaccines...for most people. I add this caveat because there are issues with vaccines and we shouldn't ignore them (btw, some people are really sensitive to the sun too). However, for most people and especially those at high risk, the vaccine is much safer than the disease. So, I hope this gives you a little more info and clears some things up.

Special note: Do the mRNA vaccines use embryonic or fetal cells? No! Since there is not protein to be produced outside the host (that's you!), the only cells used are yours.

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