Many have heard the story of the first vaccination in 1796, when Dr. Edward Jenner infected “a patient with a mild dose of smallpox in the expectation that it would provide protection from a more severe infection.” This story from history—getting the body to easily fight off a harmless scrap of the virus to train it to fight the real virus—is often what we think of when we think about vaccines.
Modern vaccines can help our bodies gain immunity in a different way, and it’s an efficient process that doesn’t take as long as historic approaches. Learn more with this University of California Fig. 1 video that features U.C. Irvine’s Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Virus Research, Dr. Luis Villarreal: The COVID Vaccine Came Out Super Quickly. Here’s Why It’s Safe.
For decades [scientists have] been working on a new type of vaccine, called mRNA or messenger RNA. Like viruses, the mRNA carries a set of instructions, but they don’t have any viral material in them.
mRNA vaccines have one purpose and that’s to tell the body to make harmless spike proteins found on the COVID-19 virus. Rather than spending years in the lab making these proteins for a vaccine, our body can easily do it in a matter of weeks.”
This works because, as The Conversation describes, mRNA is “the messenger molecule that’s been in every living cell for billions of years.” Scientists are just leveraging this system to deliver the vaccine’s instructions: “Start making those harmless spike proteins.”
And when the instructions have been read, the mRNA is thrown away, “destroyed by the cell – just as any other mRNA would be.”
“That’s vastly preferable to letting COVID-19, or other viruses we vaccinate for, work their way through your cells,” reminds the Fig. 1 video above.
Although these are new vaccines, the underlying technology was initially developed many years ago and improved incrementally over time. As a result, the vaccines have been well tested for safety. The success of these mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, in terms of safety and efficacy, predicts a bright future for new vaccine therapies that can be quickly tailored to new, emerging threats.
Read more information at UniversityOfCalifornia.edu: The COVID vaccine came out super quickly. Here’s why it’s safe.
A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines.
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