With all the excitement over the new Pfizer covid-19 vaccine, along with some apprehension as to whether it will be safe, there is one key element about the vaccine I think most people are not aware of.
With traditional vaccines a small, attenuated amount of the virus is cultured in a lab and then injected into patients. This gives the patient’s immune system a chance to come in contact with the virus’ protein signature, but in a safe, controlled way and then your body produces antibodies for that specific virus. So the next time your body encounters that virus protein signature, it knows what to do and already has antibodies ready to go.
All your common vaccines work on this method. Your immune system simply gets to “sample” the virus without being fully infected with it. This allows it to prepare antibodies to fight it off if your body ever encounters it again.
But with the new covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer, it works by a completely new mechanism, and one that has never before been used.
The new Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA based vaccine. An mRNA vaccine works by using mRNA (stands for messenger RNA) which once injected, invades your body’s immune cells and reprograms the ribosomes within those cells to produce virus molecules. When these virus molecules are released, your body’s immune system can then detect them, and hopefully build antibodies.
But as you can see, this is a totally different mechanism from a traditional vaccine, and also somewhat scary. Instead of just injecting you with a weak form of a known virus, this vaccine actually reprograms your own cells at the genetic level. The vaccine interrupts your cell’s own function and injects new genetic instructions so they become factories for the virus molecules.
If this all sounds like science fiction, it’s because for the most part it is. As I stated earlier, this style of mRNA vaccine is the first of its kind to be used on the public. The end results are not fully known, nor are the long term effects or even the short term side effects.
So while a new vaccine can be exciting, we must also be cautious. This is a totally new type of vaccine which injects your own cells with new genetic material to program them into producing a compound they were not designed to produce. This vaccine was produced quickly and with shorter testing than normal, and there has never been anything like this used previously that we can use as a benchmark.
Note: If you enjoyed this article, please make sure to share it!