What Does The Coronavirus Look Like
Like the other members of its viral family, SARS-CoV-2 the official name for the coronavirus is an RNA virus. Simply put, each individual virus is composed of single strands of genetic material protected by a fatty outer layer thats coated in spike proteins. Those spikes are what the virus uses to hijack our cells and use our molecular machinery to make more copies of itself.
The proteins allow the dendritic cells to alert two more key players in the immune system T cells and B cells that if they see those same spikes on any other cell, they should recognize them as a foreign invaders and either destroy them or generate antibodies to neutralize them immediately.
Theres a memory component of those cell populations, and that stays in your body over a long period of time, Sharp said. If a similar virus infects you, those memory cells are ready to go. They are all perfected to go out and kill that virus.
mRNA naturally degrades rapidly over time, so once it has served its purpose, it simply breaks down. The dendritic cells that expressed the spike protein eventually die and are replaced by new ones that continue to pick up that vaccine-delivered mRNA and repeat the process all over again in the course of about two weeks following immunization.
Its always, always much more risky to get the disease than it is to get the vaccine, Duprex said.
How The Pfizer Vaccine Works: Mrna Vaccines
The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. Spike proteins are the little projections on the surface of the virus.
Who Will Get The Vaccine First
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said he expects 10m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be available in 2020: the NHS has been told to prepare for the first doses to be given as early as next week.
While the governments Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation put care home residents and care home workers at the front of the queue for a Covid vaccine, it is likely that NHS staff will be the first group to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
NHS officials say the decision is pragmatic and based upon the characteristics of the vaccine, with limits on the number of times it can be moved and its shelf life making it unsuitable for use in out-of-hospital settings.
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How Mrna Vaccines Work
To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, mRNA vaccines use mRNA created in a laboratory to teach our cells how to make a proteinor even just a piece of a proteinthat 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.
How Pfizer’s Rna Vaccine Works
If Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is successful, it will be the first-ever mRNA vaccine on the market. How is the vaccine made and how does it work?
The race for the first FDA approved coronavirus vaccine is heating up, and it appears that Pfizer may cross the finish line first. Assuming everything goes well, Pfizer plans to apply for emergency approval in the third week of November, according to the Financial Times.
Working in collaboration with the German firm BioNTech, the product is an mRNA vaccine. If approved, it will be the first ever mRNA vaccine on the market. How does it work?
A typical vaccine uses either living but weak microbes, dead microbes, or pieces of microbes . Ramping up production for the vaccines that use whole microbes, especially viruses, is cumbersome. As we described previously, viruses must be grown inside cells, which can be done inside a bioreactor or an embryonated egg. But this is resource intensive and time-consuming.
One of the main benefits of mRNA vaccines is that they are relatively easy to crank out. Cells aren’t necessary. Instead, everything can be done quickly in test tubes using a handful of chemicals and an enzyme. The resulting mRNA molecules can then be packaged into tiny fat bubbles and injected into the patient.
Traditional Vaccines vs. mRNA Vaccines
: C. Zhang, et al. Front Immunol
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Why Do Mrna Vaccines Need To Be Stored At Such Low Temperatures
RNA breaks down easily and quickly unless it is kept at low temperatures. In the body, this isnt a problem because RNA does not need to exist long in order to carry out its function. But vaccines may need to be kept stable for days or even weeks before they are administered. This has not been nearly as much of a concern with conventional vaccines. Weakened or inactive versions of a virus can remain stable longer without requiring low temperatures.
In the clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius , which requires storage in dry ice. The Moderna vaccine was kept at minus 20 degrees Celsius , which is more like a regular freezer. Both vaccines continue to require cold storage any approval of the vaccines is based on the data generated during the trials, and so the same conditions need to be met.
The idea is that the first shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. Pfizers second shot is given three weeks after the first one Modernas is spaced four weeks later. It is very important to have both doses of the same vaccine and follow the same procedures that made the clinical trials so successful.
What Are The Ingredients Of The Pfizer/biontech Mrna Vaccine
You can check out the pdf of the Consumer Medicine Information summary for the Comirnaty/BNT162b2 vaccine from Medsafe here. The active ingredient of the vaccine is 30 µg of a nucleoside modified mRNA which codes for the spike glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The vaccine also contains fats which make up the lipid nanoparticle coat which helps to transport the mRNA into our cells without it being broken down. These fats are:
- azanediyl)bisbis 0.43 mg
- 2-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide 0.05 mg
- 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine 0.09 mg
- Cholesterol 0.2 mg
The vaccine also contains salts to ensure its pH is similar to that of human cells. These salts are:
- Potassium chloride 0.01 mg
- Mg monobasic potassium phosphate 0.01 mg
- Mg sodium chloride 0.36 mg
- Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate 0.07 mg
The final ingredient of the vaccine is 6 mg of sucrose, which is a sugar that is added to protect the lipid nanoparticle coat at the very cold temperatures the vaccine is stored at .
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The Pfizer Biontech Covid
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization has issued interim recommendations for the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. This article provides a summary of those interim recommendations you may access the full guidance document here.
Here is what you need to know.
According to SAGE, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is safe and effective. The priority is to start vaccinating health workers at high risk of exposure, followed by older adults, before immunizing the rest of the population.
Who should be vaccinated first?
While vaccine supplies are limited, it is recommended that priority be given to health workers at high risk of exposure and older people, including those aged 65 or older.
Who else can take the vaccine?
The vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in people with various conditions that are associated with increased risk of severe disease.
This includes hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver or kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.
Given the significant risk of severe COVID-19 for moderately or severely immunocompromised persons , WHO advises an extended primary series based on available data, though individual safety monitoring is required, as is consultation with the treating physician.
Should pregnant women be vaccinated?
Protein Subunit Vaccine Effectiveness
A large-scale clinical trial of the Novavax vaccine found that its effectiveness was 90.4 percent.
However, this trial was performed in early 2021, before the arrival of the Delta and Omicron variants. Detailed data on the Novavax vaccines effectiveness against these variants havent been published yet.
So far, Novavax has released a statement based off of early data that antibodies from the first two-dose vaccine series have some effectiveness against the Omicron variant. Protection also increased after a booster dose.
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Covid: Did Pfizer’s Boss Cast Doubt On His Own Vaccine
“I’ve never doubted Covid-19 vaccination… until now.”
Jerome doesn’t follow news closely on Twitter, using the site mainly to tweet about sports and books he’s enjoying.
The 41-year-old bus driver, from Quebec has mostly supported local Covid restrictions, although he admits to growing “fed up”, two years into the pandemic.
His feed reveals him mildly grumbling about his children’s home-schooling, among posts about favourite authors and Canada’s national football team.
But casually scrolling on the social-media site, one Monday early in the new year, he came across a video clip appearing to show the head of Pfizer suggesting his vaccine provided no protection at all against Omicron.
What You Need To Know
- 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 potentially serious consequences of getting sick.
- mRNA vaccines are newly available to the public. However, researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.
- CDC recommends that people who are starting their vaccine series or getting a booster dose get either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna . The mRNA vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnsons Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in most circumstances, but the J& J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.
- The same COVID-19 mRNA vaccine product should be used for both doses of a two-dose primary series and for an additional primary dose, if needed. However, for a booster dose, the booster dose product does not need to match the product used for the primary series.
- Learn more about getting your vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines also called mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines are some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized and approved for use in the United States.
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Moderna Maintained Efficacy Up To 5 Months
A recent study by Brigham and Womens Hospital researchers concluded that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 93 percent effective at preventing illness, and more than 98 percent effective for preventing severe illness even 5 months after a second dose.
The vaccine trial included 30,415 participants, with 15,209 receiving Modernas vaccine and 15,206 given a placebo.
According to researchers, the Moderna vaccine showed continued effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 and severe illness even after 5 months, while maintaining an acceptable safety profile and protection against asymptomatic infection.
The message here is not that if you were vaccinated early, youre not protected. Those vaccinated more recently may be experiencing a marginal improvement, co-corresponding author Lindsey Baden, MD, division of infectious diseases at BHW said in a statement. But both groups are benefiting from protection compared to people who remain unvaccinated.
Waning immunity happens to some extent with all vaccines, but that does not mean that the vaccines stop working completely, David Hirschwerk, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, told Healthline.
But their effectiveness often reduces as times moves along, he continued.
He emphasized that COVID-19 vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness well beyond 6 months.
But they become steadily less effective at preventing any degree of infection.
Where Mrna Stands Today
In the years since Weissman and Karikó made these breakthroughs, mRNA research has continued to march on. Weissman and his current colleagues have worked on a variety of mRNA vaccines, including a universal flu shot that could cover a majority of influenza viruses and has so far proven to be effective in animal trials.
Compared to traditional vaccine platforms that require a series of complex steps, like growing mammalian cells in massive quantities and a viral purification process that looks different depending on the pathogen youre working with, mRNA is now easy to manufacture at a fairly large scale.
Instead of needing to reinvent the wheel every time you make a new vaccine, Weissman said, with its the same reaction, and the only thing you have to do is plug in the new sequence for any virus, so that makes it very easy to produce a new vaccine.
Both Moderna and Pfizers vaccines generated above 90 percent protection after two doses during clinical trials that played out before new variants of the virus marginally reduced their efficacy. Even so, the two give recipients remarkably high levels of protection, particularly against severe disease and death.
The CDC recently released new research that found these vaccines reduce a fully vaccinated persons chance of getting infected with the coronavirus by 90 percent in real-world settings like the workplace.
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Developing And Testing Personalized Mrna Cancer Vaccines
For more than a decade, cancer researchers have been developing a type of treatment known as a personalized cancer vaccine using various technologies, including mRNA and protein fragments, or peptides.
The investigational mRNA vaccines are manufactured for individuals based on the specific molecular features of their tumors. It takes 1 to 2 months to produce a personalized mRNA cancer vaccine after tissue samples have been collected from a patient.
Speed is especially important for individualized cancer vaccination, said Mathias Vormehr, Ph.D., codirector of Cancer Vaccines at BioNTech. A highly individualized vaccine combination must be designed and produced within weeks of taking a tumor biopsy.
With this approach, researchers try to elicit an immune response against abnormal proteins, or neoantigens, produced by cancer cells. Because these proteins are not found on normal cells, they are promising targets for vaccine-induced immune responses.
Personalized cancer vaccines may teach the immune system how cancer cells are different from the rest of the body, said Julie Bauman, M.D., deputy director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
Dr. Bauman is co-leading a clinical trial testing a personalized mRNA vaccine in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor in patients with advanced head and neck cancer. The study initially included patients with colorectal cancer, but this group did not appear to benefit from the therapy.
Are These Vaccines Authorized
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and J& J COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized in the United States by the FDA under an emergency use authorization . This is a little bit different than a typical FDA approval.
Simply put, an EUA is a method through which the FDA can allow unapproved medical products to be used during a public health emergency, like a pandemic.
When reviewing a product for an EUA, the FDA must decide that the overall benefits of the product outweigh its potential risks.
Heres what happens during this process:
In addition to the United States, these three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized or approved in a variety of other countries around the world.
Its important to note that additional authorizations or approvals may occur rapidly.
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Can I Choose Which Vaccine I Get
We arent there yet. That wont be possible in the short term. I would say get what you can get when something becomes available to you. I really dont think people should wait. If you have access to get any vaccine, you should get it. Even if it doesnt completely prevent it, you are much less likely to have severe disease and die. Maybe youre just at home and feel terrible as opposed to having to be admitted to the hospital with low oxygen. Hospitals and clinics are going to be limited in the short term on what they can provide folks.