BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: thanrna

Vaccines: The Start of the End?

As you all know, unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, COVID-19 is something that has most likely impacted everyone on the planet in some way, and in some ways worse than others. At this point in time, I think we can all agree that we just want this madness to end, which is looking like it will come from a vaccine. The vaccine trial process began in March of 2020, where phase 1 was conducted, which was giving the vaccine to healthy volunteers to test the safety and how the vaccine reacts in the human body. This first version of the vaccine was a two dose vaccine, which was designed to get the immune system to create antibodies to fight against what is called the “spike” of the virus, which is how the virus attaches itself and enters human cells. In this specific testing, the researchers used a total of 45 healthy adults ranging from 18 to 55 years of age, each of which receiving two injections of the vaccine, ranging in doses of 25, 100, and 25o micrograms. From this testing, participants received no serious side effects from the vaccine, however, more than half of the participants reported feeling fatigued, chills, and pain at the injection site. This is similar in concept to the taste bud lab we did during class recently, as the miraculin tablets altered our taste buds to have change the taste of certain food items, similar to how the vaccine test altered how the participants felt after taking the test vaccine.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the goal is for vaccines to be distributed by the end of 2020 in the United States. However, when a vaccine is approved and authorized for distribution, there may not be enough resources for all adults to receive the vaccine when it first comes out. If this is the case, where a vaccine is approved by the end of 2020, and there are not enough resources for all adults at the time, over time, resources will increase leading to all adults being able to have received the vaccine at some point in 2021. As for children, a vaccine may not be available to them as soon as it is available for adults, as more studies are needed to complete a safe vaccine for young children.

 

Is Your Cellphone Trying to Kill You?

The cellphone that you use everyday, whether it is for work or your enjoyment, can harm you without you even knowing. Cellphones give off a certain type of energy called radio-frequency waves that can increase your risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head or neck area. Cell phones are given the ability to function because of cell towers. Cell phones send and receive signals from surrounding cell towers by using radio-frequency waves. Radio-frequency waves, however, are a form of non-ionizing radiation, which means they do not have enough energy to cause cancer directly damaging the DNA inside a cell. This relates to our biology class, as we are talking about how cells work inside the body. Although radio-frequency waves do not have enough energy to break through a cell to cause damage, if they did, they would have to pass through the plasma membrane, and then reach the nucleus in order to damage DNA.

The radio-frequency waves come from the cell phone’s antenna, located in the body of a hand-held phone. The waves are strongest at the antenna and lose energy quickly as they travel away from the phone. The phone is often held against the head when a person is on a call. The closer the antenna is to someone, the greater their expected exposure to radio-frequency waves. The body tissues closest to the phone absorb more energy from the waves than tissues farther away, giving you a higher risk of a form of brain cancer than something else. The amount of energy absorbed by someone from the radio-frequency waves can be influenced by a number of things, such as the model of phone you use, or the amount of time you use your phone. However, in studies shown in the first embedded link, there has been no clear answer of the correlation between cellphones and cancer. Overall, I feel that if there was a significant finding in these studies, there would be a huge spike of cases of brain tumors or brain cancers. I believe this is not something we should be worried about, and if it were to be a problem, I feel that there would have been a solution created already.

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