To trigger an immune response, vaccines have traditionally put a weakened or inactivated bacterium or virus into our bodies. That’s is a potential problem with highly virulent viruses such as Covid. Instead, mRNA vaccines use ‘Messenger RNA’ created in a laboratory to teach our cells how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
There has been a lot of poorly informed concern about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, largely due to social media disinformation. They are actually an amazingly smart vaccination technology. While mRNA vaccines are newly available to the public, researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.
Some social media comment suggests that they alter our DNA. Many people have been put off receiving them for this reason. However, this is completely untrue, and is based on minimal understanding. Messenger RNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Messenger RNA (mRNA) never enters the nucleus of the cell where our DNA (genetic material) is located, so it cannot change or influence our genes.
And they cannot give someone the virus that causes COVID-19 or other viruses, as mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Messenger RNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies. Like all vaccines, mRNA vaccines benefit people who get vaccinated by giving them protection against diseases like COVID-19 without risking the serious consequences of getting sick.
A COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, enters the muscle cells and instruct the cells’ machinery to produce a harmless piece of the spike protein. After the protein piece is made, our cells break down the mRNA and remove it. The mRNA and the spike protein don’t last long in the body. Our cells break down mRNA and get rid of it within a few days after vaccination.
Next, our cells display the spike protein piece on their surface. Our immune system recognises that the protein doesn’t belong there. This triggers our immune system to produce antibodies and activate T cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. This is what your body might do to fight off the infection if you got sick with COVID-19.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. The benefit of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is that those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
I am immensely grateful for the application of this technology. So many lives have been saved. But I am also immensley sad that so much misinformation has been spread. Please share my blog!
John Sloan, October 2021