Central PA Medicine Winter 2021 - 5

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few even in the medical profession
are concerned about the mRNA
(messenger RNA) technology
which is the backbone of our
earliest available COVID vaccines (Pfizer
and Moderna). They are the first of their
kind for vaccinations in humans (at least for
those that have been released on the market
because we have tested mRNA vaccines in
humans before). Most of our vaccines use
altered or nonfunctional versions of the
virus we are combating, or pieces of the
covering whether the envelope (lipid and
protein) or capsid (protein). The mRNA
vaccine contains a portion of the virus code
or " blueprint " that produces just a part of
the " coat " that once identified as foreign
within our bodies, generates an immune
response. In this case, it is a portion of the
crown or spike protein. mRNA is usually
produced or transcribed from the DNA
in the nucleus of a cell then released into
the cytoplasm where all the intra cellular
building blocks exist to make proteins. The
spike protein mRNA (which does not in
any way incorporate into our own genetic
code) goes to the ribosomes and begins to
be " read " or translated, and proteins are

formed as per the nucleotide sequence no way to be transported through the cell
within the mRNA. The pieces of the membrane into the cell without help. The
COVID protein coat are then transported spike protein mRNA must be protected
to the surface of the cell and expressed on during transport by a lipid nanoparticle
MHC I or II receptors. The proteins are which will also be its method to gain
identified as foreign by T helper cells which entrance into the cell cytoplasm. The
bind to the receptors and then generate an lipid nanoparticle also has stability issues.
immune response by producing a myriad Therefore, the mRNA vaccine has to be
of cytokines that will create an army of of delivered around the world very carefully
plasma cells from B cells that form specific at extremely cold temperatures, thawed,
antibodies, as well as cytotoxic T cells that and within a very short period, injected
will bind to and remove the " antigen " and/ into us. At many points, the vaccine could
or infected host cells. Any future spike easily be rendered ineffective.
proteins, especially those attached to the
By the way, a booster is recommended
coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, will then be
because it is assumed that a single shot will
identified as foreign and be removed due to
provide immunity to about 50% of those
the " memory " within the B cells and T cells.
immunized, but a second shot would push
The reason that this is our first choice that to greater than 90% with possibly a
for a COVID vaccine is because mRNA longer lasting immune response.
is easier to isolate and mass produce than
The AstraZeneca vaccine which at the
conventional or " usual " vaccines. The classic
time that I am writing this is not available,
vaccines require the virus, once modified,
uses COVID DNA (which also does
to be injected and grown in living cells over
not incorporate into our genetic code)
a few days which are usually those within
inside chimpanzee adenovirus to provide
fertilized hen eggs. Then the virus is isolated
immunity. It is significantly more stable
and formulated into a deliverable vaccine.
and easier to transport but, again, a few
If easier to produce, then why is this months away.
mRNA technology not the norm for
Why are we afraid of this technology?
vaccines? Because mRNA is not stable
Is it because we think it will change us
enough for easy transport and delivery
because it is a new code for new proteins
to the cells or site of action. The mRNA
to be formed within our cells? If that is
is very unstable because it is designed to
the concern, think about what a virus
code for a protein then be disassembled
does. It introduces a much larger amount
quickly to allow for new mRNA to come
of DNA or RNA into our cells and yes,
in and do the same. Furthermore, it has
some can incorporate into our own DNA
and produce many more proteins and
significant amounts of new DNA or RNA
which then will infect more of our cells
to make us acutely or chronically ill or
outright kill us.
So, do not fear the vaccine. Fear the
disease it is protecting us from.

Central PA Medicine Winter 2021 5


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Central PA Medicine Winter 2021

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSummer19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMFall18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMSpring18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CPMWinter18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Summer17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Spring17
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/CPAMed/CentralPAMedicine_Feb2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com