Pfizer recently announced their vaccine is 90% effective, so I thought I explain how the Covid-19 vaccine works.
There is a wide variety of RNA viruses
The West Nile virus belongs there, so does the hepatitis A and C virus. Poliovirus, the Corona viruses (SARS, Covid-19 coronavirus), HIV-1 and HIV2 (the cause of AIDS), the measles virus and the mumps virus are also RNA viruses. The first sequencing of the RNA Covid-19 coronavirus in a patient in December of 2019 was published in Nature.
What are common DNA viruses?
Common DNA viruses are herpesviruses, smallpox virus, adenovirus, and papillomaviruses to mention a few. There are many others as well.
What is messenger RNA (mRNA) and how does the vaccine work?
This is explained in this link as well as the video from Moderna. From this we gather that the RNA virus gets into human cells, where it multiplies. The cells are shedding messenger RNA (mRNA). If the mRNA gets into non-infected human cells, the process repeats itself, with secretion of more mRNA. This vicious cycle creates more and more circulating mRNA that makes the patient sick. In essence, this is where the Covid-19 vaccine fits in. Genetic engineering defines this mRNA vaccine, which causes an immune response, but is not infectious. The immune system produces antibodies that fight the spike protein manufactured by the mRNA vaccine. When the real Covid-19 coronavirus comes along, the antibodies against the spike protein kill the virus and it cannot multiply any more. This prevents vaccinated patients from getting sick. The vaccine stimulates the immune system protecting people from getting an infection with the virus.
What is an RNA vaccine?
This is explained in this link as well as the video from Moderna. From this we gather that the RNA virus gets into human cells, multiplies and the infected cells secrete it as messenger RNA (mRNA). If the mRNA gets into non-infected human cells, the process repeats itself with secretion of more mRNA. This vicious cycle creates more and more circulating mRNA that makes the patient sick. In essence, this is how the Covid-19 coronavirus works. The difference is that the Covid-19 coronavirus makes you sick, but the mRNA vaccine protects you by making antibodies against the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Storage of vaccine
Another downfall is the fact that the vaccine needs to be kept at -94 Fahrenheit (-70 Celsius). There are very few facilities that have this capability. Moderna stated that their vaccine keeps at minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
What we do not know about the vaccine
At this point there was no report about mild, moderate or severe cases among the placebo group and the test cases. In addition, we do not know whether cases without or very mild symptoms can transmit the virus when vaccinated. More questions are about how the vaccine works in elderly patients. We also do not know whether the vaccine works well in African Americans. Pfizer and BioNTech reported in the press release that 42% of participants had “racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds”. Another unknown is how long the vaccine will be effective. Some additional information will come from an analysis of the immune response that is part of the clinical trial.
The clinical trial of the new Pfizer/BioNTech anti-Covid19 vaccine is going very well. There is a 90% effectiveness of the vaccine, and Moderna reported even 94.5%. In the meantime the FDA has reviewed both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines. It released both vaccines early for general distribution under an emergency basis. Genetic engineering defines this mRNA vaccine, which causes an immune response. This is a new approach for anti-viral vaccinations. We do not know how long the protective effect of the vaccine will last. But, generally speaking RNA vaccines are much safer than other vaccines. The biotech industry can manufacture RNA vaccines much faster than other vaccines including the flu vaccine. Once the vaccine is available and doctors can vaccinate a lot of people, this will finally be a game changer for the pandemic. Our lives should return to more normal.