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Tag: #mRNAvaccine

Unveiling the Nobel-Worthy Breakthrough: The mRNA Pioneers Behind Life-Saving Vaccines



In a historic announcement, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2023 has been awarded to biochemist Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, recognizing their groundbreaking contributions to mRNA research. Their work laid the foundation for what has become one of the most influential medical advancements of our time: the development of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.

Karikó, currently at the University of Szeged in Hungary, and Weissman from the University of Pennsylvania, received this prestigious honor for their pioneering research on modifying mRNA. These modifications were crucial in making the first COVID-19 vaccines possible, notably those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Revolutionizing Vaccines

Traditional vaccines typically use weakened or killed viruses, bacteria, or proteins from pathogens to stimulate the immune system. However, mRNA vaccines work differently. They contain genetic instructions for building viral proteins. When administered, these instructions prompt cells to temporarily produce the viral protein, triggering an immune response. The immune system then builds defenses, providing protection if the person is later exposed to the actual virus. This may sound familiar, as AP Bio has taught about immune response and cells. We learned that memory T cells are a crucial component of the immune system, formed after the body encounters a pathogen like a virus or bacteria. These specialized cells “remember” the specific characteristics of the invader, allowing for a rapid and targeted response upon subsequent exposures, effectively combating and neutralizing the illness. Memory B cells, a crucial component of the adaptive immune system, exhibit remarkable specificity and functionality. During the primary immune response, these cells undergo affinity maturation, producing high-affinity antibodies with increased binding capacity to pathogen-specific antigens. Notably long-lived, memory B cells persist in the body, ensuring prolonged immunity. Upon re-exposure, they swiftly differentiate into Plasma B cells, which serve as antibody factories, producing copious amounts of antibodies tailored to the familiar pathogen. On the other hand, memory T cells, including cytotoxic and helper T cells, play distinct yet coordinated roles. Cytotoxic T cells retain the capacity to directly eliminate infected cells, preventing pathogen spread, while helper T cells release cytokines that stimulate antibody production by B cells and enhance cytotoxic T cell activity. With immunological memory, memory T cells provide rapid and targeted responses upon reinfection, actively surveilling for cells displaying specific antigens associated with previously encountered pathogens. Together, these memory cells form a sophisticated and enduring defense mechanism, contributing to the immune system’s ability to combat and neutralize pathogens efficiently.

The technology behind mRNA vaccines has proven immensely effective in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 2023, over 13.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, including mRNA vaccines and other types, have been administered globally. These vaccines are estimated to have saved nearly 20 million lives worldwide in the year following their introduction.

Modified mRNA and Its Potential

RNA, the lesser-known cousin of DNA, serves as the genetic instruction manual for cells. Messenger RNA (mRNA) copies genetic instructions from DNA and is crucial for protein synthesis. Karikó and Weissman’s pivotal contribution was modifying mRNA building blocks to overcome challenges in early trials.

Traditional mRNA injection would trigger adverse immune reactions, leading to inflammation. By swapping the RNA building block uridine for modified versions, the researchers found a solution. Pseudouridine and later N1-methylpseudouridine proved effective in dampening harmful immune responses. This breakthrough, dating back to 2005, enabled the safe delivery of mRNA to cells.

“The messenger RNA has to hide and go unnoticed by our bodies,” explains Kizzmekia Corbett-Helaire, a viral immunologist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The modifications developed by Karikó and Weissman were fundamental, allowing mRNA therapeutics to hide while being beneficial to the body.

This technology extends beyond COVID-19, with potential applications against other infectious diseases, cancer, and even rare genetic disorders. Clinical trials are underway for these applications, though results may take several years to emerge.

A Journey Decades in the Making

The road to this groundbreaking achievement was not without obstacles. In 1997, Karikó and Weissman, working in separate buildings, collaborated to address a fundamental problem that could have derailed mRNA vaccines. Initial setbacks, including failed clinical trials in the early 90’s, led many researchers to abandon mRNA as a viable therapeutic approach.

Undeterred, Karikó and Weissman persisted. “We would sit together in 1997 and talk about all the things that we thought RNA could do,” Weissman reflected. The duo’s resilience led to the formation of RNARx in 2006, a company dedicated to developing mRNA-based treatments and vaccines.

Despite the groundbreaking nature of their work, Karikó’s contributions were initially overlooked. Ten years ago, she faced termination from her job and had to move to Germany without her family to secure another position. The Nobel recognition sheds light on her unwavering commitment to mRNA therapeutics.

The Nobel Committee’s decision to acknowledge this achievement swiftly, a mere three years after the vaccines demonstrated their medical importance, highlights the urgency and impact of mRNA technology. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020, awarded eight years after the description of CRISPR/Cas 9, reflects a similar trend of more current acknowledgments.

In a press conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Weissman expressed his surprise at the recognition. “I never expected in my entire life to get the Nobel Prize,” he confessed. The laureates will share the prize of 11 million Swedish kronor, approximately $1 million.

A Nobel-Worthy Legacy and a Glimpse into the Future

The timely recognition of Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman emphasizes the transformative potential of mRNA therapeutics, extending far beyond the current success against COVID-19. As we celebrate this Nobel-worthy legacy, it opens a new chapter in medical science, offering hope for innovative solutions to combat various diseases and improve human health.

The journey from a meeting in 1997 to the global impact of mRNA vaccines in 2023 showcases the power of perseverance, collaboration, and the pursuit of groundbreaking ideas. 

What do you think about mRNA vaccines? Did/Will you receive one?

Enhanced efficiency with Reduced Dosage: Advancement’s in Moderna’s mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine

Moderna has rolled our many versions of vaccines to fight against Covid-19 since the pandemic began in 2020. One of their latest versions of the Covid-19 vaccine is a streamlined version of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, called mRNA-1283. For those who don’t know, mRNA vaccines are vaccines that work by introducing a piece of mRNA that corresponds to a viral protein, usually a small piece of a protein found on the virus’s outer membrane. What is interesting about the mRNA-1283 vaccine and makes it seem quite efficient is that it is more effective at lower doses and lasts twice as long when stored in a refrigerator. This is likely due to a very unique feature of the mRNA-1283 vaccine: it does not include mRNA that corresponds to all parts of the famous SARS-CoV-2 spike protein—a protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that allows the virus to penetrate host cells and cause infection. Instead, it includes mRNA that corresponds to just two specific key parts of the spike protein.

Everything About COVID-19 Vaccines

Many studies have shown that the most effective antibodies to fight against Covid-19 are those that bind to one of the two key sites of the spike protein that protrude from the virus’s surface. For instance, one of these two key sites is the region on the spike protein responsible for attaching to human cells and assisting the virus in entering the human cell. Therefore, antibodies that bind to this key site will block the spike protein from attaching to the human cell and entering the cell.

A majority of the current existing Covid-19 vaccines, including other existing Moderna vaccines, contains the entire spike protein. This causes the immune system to create antibodies against all parts of the spike protein, meaning that many of these antibodies are ineffective because not all parts of the spike protein are responsible for entering or harming human cells. On the other hand, Moderna’s mRNA-1283 vaccine consists only of mRNA coding for the two parts of the protein that contain the two key sites of the spike protein that are harmful to human cells, which means all of these antibodies are effective.

When the the first human trial of mRNA-1283 was given, it revealed that even when people were given a tenth of the full dose for one of Moderna’s original Covid-19 vaccines, called mRNA-1273, they produced an antibody response that was just as strong as a full dose of this original mRNA-1273 vaccine, according to a trial released in October 2022.  

Additionally, the mRNAs in the mRNA-1283 vaccine are shorter than those in the mRNA vaccines coding for the entire spike protein, reducing the chance of mRNA breakdown and allowing the vaccine to last longer. When stored at temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, the mRNA-1283 vaccine takes a year for 40 percent of the mRNAs to degrade, while the mRNAs in mRNA-1273 take only six months to degrade at these temperatures.

This connects to what we have learned in AP Bio class as in AP Bio we learned about the process of adaptive immunity. We learned that an adaptive immune response occurs when all the first and second line defenses of the body, such as skin or mucus, are unsuccessful in preventing a virus, such as Covid-19, or bacteria from spreading in the body. An adaptive immune response is then needed to target the virus or bacteria. Adaptive immune responses rely on two types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. B cells are the cells that take on the invading Pathogen, so in the case they would take on the SARS-CoV-2 in the body directly, while the T cells target the cells that were already infected by the virus. The adaptive immune response begins when the Macrophage cells of the body engulf the antigen through phagocytosis and then the vesicle formed for the antigen once engulfed inside the Macrophage fuses with a lysosome to break down the antigen. As the lysosome breaks down the antigen, it preserves the foreign antigen (epitope) which is the little part of the antigen that is recognized by the immune system. The epitope is then displayed on the outside of the macrophage membrane on the MHC protein. The T-helper cells see this displayed foreign antigen on the MHC protein and use their receptors to identify and recognize this foreign antigen. Once the T-helper Cell recognizes these proteins, it is now activated and releases interleukin which signals the start of the process to fight the foreign invader (the key sites on the spike protein) and activates the B and T cells. In the Humoral Response, the B cells bind to the foreign antigen that the T-helper cell recognized and once recognized by the B-cell, the T-helper cells help create the B-plasma cells. These B-plasma cells create antibodies to bind to and neutralize the foreign antigen.

In the case of covid-19, the foreign antigen, or small piece of the antigen that is recognized by the immune system, are the two key sites on the spike protein that we discussed.  The T-cells recognize these key sites when they are embedded on the MHC protein and activate which releases interleukin and signals the start to the immune response. One of these immune responses is the Humoral Response which activates the  B-cells to bind and recognize these key sites on the spike proteins as well. From here, the T-helper cells help create the B-plasma cells which create antibodies to surround and neutralize the two key parts of the spike protein (the foreign invader). Antibodies produced by covid-19 vaccines that are for the whole spike protein are producing some antibodies that are not going to surround and attack these two specific key sites of the spike protein/ the foreign antigen. On the other hand, the mRNA-1283 vaccine only produces antibodies that attack the specific key sites on the spike proteins (the foreign invader), so it is not producing any antibodies that are ineffective in fighting SARS-CoV-2. This makes the mRNA-1283 vaccine just as effective or more effective in smaller doses as other vaccines that produce antibodies for the whole spike protein are in larger doses because even though the vaccines for the whole spike protein are producing more antibodies, some of these antibodies don’t fight the specific foreign antigen that is preserved when the antigen is broken down by the lysosome in the Macrophage cell and needs an immune response, and instead try to fight the whole antigen (the whole spike protein) which is unnecessary.

As Covid-19 continues to evolve, more and more versions of Covid-19 vaccines are emerging, making it increasingly challenging for people like myself to decide which vaccine is truly ‘the best’ and should be taken. After delving deeper into the Moderna mRNA-1283 vaccine, it seems that, due to its exclusive focus on the key aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, this version of the Covid-19 vaccine could indeed be at the top of the list for the most efficient Covid-19 vaccines. As someone who has fallen ill after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine in the past, the prospect of receiving a lower dosage of the Covid vaccine while still achieving the same or better effectiveness is definitely intriguing to me. When it is time for you to get your next Covid-19 vaccine, would you be interested in trying Moderna’s mRNA-1283 vaccine as your next Covid vaccination?


COVID-19 Vaccine Going Retro?

Bottle with Coronavirus Vaccine and syringe with Novavax logo on white background
Have you ever wondered why the world started to use mRNA vaccines all of a sudden ever since the COVID-19 pandemic? Where did the traditional methods of vaccination go? This sudden shift in vaccine technology didn’t just happen by chance but was a result of years of scientific research and experiments. As the world faced an unprecedented pandemic, the traditional method of vaccination, while reliable, was slower and less effective to adapt to mutating virus than the mRNA vaccines, which is faster and more flexible when combating COVID-19 viruses. However, the traditional methods have returned! The new Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is an old-fashioned, protein-based approach to vaccination, a contrast to the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Novavax vaccine especially targets the SARS-CoV-2 variant XBB.1.5, which is a descendent of Omicron. 

Novavax’s Differences: A Protein-Based Approach
Unlike the mRNA vaccines, which use modified viral genetic materials to cause an immune response, Novavax relies on a more traditional approach which injects proteins that resemble SARS-CoV-2 directly into the body. This method has over 30 years of application in vaccines such as the Hepatitis B Vaccine. The Novavax Company also uses insect cells, such as moth cells, to produce SARS-CoV-2’s unique spike proteins. The reason why Novavax researchers use moth cells is because of its efficiency in producing spike proteins. They first select the desired genes that create the spike proteins, and then they put these kinds of genes into a baculovirus, which is basically an insect virus. The baculovirus will then infect moth cells and replicate rapidly inside them creating lots of spike proteins. Finally, the researchers will extract and use the spike proteins for vaccines. Additionally, Novavax’s formula also includes Matrix-M, a compound from Chilean Soapbark Trees, which will further enhance our immune system’s response to the spike protein.

Targeted Variants and Efficiency:                                                                    Novavax vaccines are developed specifically for the XBB.1.5 variant, and they are not optimized for the newer Eris and Pirola variants. However, vaccinologist Gregory Poland notes that all vaccinations, including Pfizer and Moderna, have all been “chasing the tail” of the emerging variants all over the pandemic, so Novavax is not alone in this situation. Additionally, all of the vaccine boosters seem to be able to provide some protection against new variants, but protein vaccinations are way slower to adapt to the new variants than mRNA vaccines. In terms of efficiency, according to infectious disease researcher Kirsten Lyke, Novavax stands on par with other mRNA vaccines. It is 55% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms and 31% effective at preventing infections, and this is very similar to the mRNA vaccines.

Protein Synthesis Elongation.png (mRNA coding protein)

Side Effects and Availability:
When it comes to side effects, the Novavax booster demonstrates a lower risk of myocarditis(inflammation of heart muscle) or pericarditis(inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) compared to mRNA vaccines, but of course, it is not entirely risk-free. It also tends to have fewer side effects like muscle fatigue and nausea post-vaccination. A huge advantage of the Novavax vaccine is its availability, it can be stored in a typical refrigerator, making it considerably more accessible than mRNA vaccines, which require subfreezing storage. The Novavax booster is now available in pharmacies across the country, with the CDC recommending having two doses that are eight weeks apart for unvaccinated people.

Which one should I get?
Both the protein vaccines and the mRNA vaccines can help you fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and neither is better than the other. The mRNA vaccine has a faster efficiency in preventing COVID and has a higher adaptability to new variants, while the Novavax vaccine uses a more familiar technology, has a more accessible storage requirement, and has a lower risk of side effects post-vaccination. But no matter which kind of vaccine you think is better, Lyke suggests that the most important thing is to “pick one and get it.”

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2)

Connecting to AP Biology:
In AP Biology, we’ve learned about how our bodies fight bacterial and viral infections and specifically talked about how the spike proteins on SARS-CoV-2 work to attack our bodies. When our body first recognizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, white blood cells like Macrophages and Dendritic cells will engulf the virus, breaking it down into small pieces and displaying it to Helper T cells on their MHC proteins. The Helper T cells will then release Cytokines which will trigger both the Cell-mediated response and the Humoral response of your immune system. These responses will ultimately kill most of the bacteria/viruses in your body. Additionally, your immune system will then remember the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and if you ever get affected again, your immune system will immediately respond to it. Understanding how vaccines help your body defend against real viruses links directly to our studies on the human body’s defense mechanisms against foreign pathogens.

Leave a Comment!
COVID-19 is a years-long pandemic that still hasn’t ended today, I think it is really important for everyone to know how they can protect themselves through modern technologies and minimize the impact of the virus. I am also intrigued by how fast different vaccine technologies have evolved to help mankind to combat the virus. How do you feel about the re-introduction of protein-based vaccines like Novavax? Do you think this will change the public’s preferences on COVID-19 vaccines? Feel free to leave a comment below and we can discuss more about this topic! For more information on this post, go to for the latest research and updates.

Novavax: A Revolutionary Change to Covid Vaccines

Medical company Novavax introduced a new FDA-authorized COVID booster shot in early October, expanding the options of available COVID vaccines. This booster specifically targets the XBB.1.5 SARS-CoV-2 variant, a descendant of Omicron, distinguishing itself as the first protein vaccine in over a year. Unlike other mRNA vaccines, such as those developed by Pfizer and Moderna, Novavax employs a more traditional method, directly injecting proteins resembling those in SARS-CoV-2 into the body. The Novavax vaccine includes Matrix-M, a proprietary compound extracted from Chilean soapbark trees, enhancing the immune system. Matrix-M has also been integrated into other vaccines, including one endorsed by the World Health Organization for malaria.

Similar to the updated shots from Moderna and Pfizer, the Novavax vaccine is not optimized for newer virus versions like Eris and Pirola, as it is specifically designed to target the XBB.1.5 variant. Unlike mRNA vaccines, the Novavax vaccine is more convenient for distribution and storage, as it can be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures. However, the development of new formulas for emerging variants in protein vaccines takes longer compared to the adaptable mRNA vaccines.


Novavax demonstrates effectiveness similar to other COVID vaccines, with its booster being approximately 55% effective at preventing symptoms and 31% effective at preventing infection. Studies indicate that mixing and matching different vaccine types yield comparable antibody responses, with some studies favoring the use of both boosters, taking the mRNA after protein vaccines. The longevity of antibodies from the Novavax booster, which lasts longer than those from mRNA vaccines according to research, remains inconclusive due to confounding variables of preexisting immunity.

In terms of safety, the Novavax booster poses a lower risk of causing myocarditis or pericarditis compared to mRNA vaccines and shows fewer side effects in the initial 48 hours after vaccination. The booster is currently available in pharmacies, distributed to numerous locations, and is recommended as a single dose.

In AP Biology, we learned how mRNA vaccines for COVID work, as the vaccine introduces antigen-encoding mRNA into immune cells. These cells utilize the mRNA as a guide to produce foreign proteins resembling those created by the COVID virus. These protein molecules then trigger an adaptive immune response, instructing the body to recognize and eliminate the actual COVID virus.

Is the Novavax booster the real deal? mRNA vaccines, such as Moderna and Pfizer, have been proven effective and have worked extremely well in the past. Their contributors, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Novavax has just been approved with not much prior history in its effectiveness or side effects open to the public. Personally, I believe that the mRNA vaccines are way safer options regarding their previous successes, however, the benefits and pros of the Novavax listed by scientists and researchers might as well outweigh its uncertainty. If you have the choice of taking the new Novavax booster or the mRNA boosters, which one would you choose considering their pros and cons?

How Bats Turned Themselves and the World Upside Down

In a research article written in early-mid November of 2022, Smriti Mallapaty conducts and evaluates the bat ancestry in SARS CoV-2. Over the few years of COVID research, scientists discovered that COVID shares ancestry with bats more recently than they believed. However, recent findings suggest that finding that ancestor is unlikely.
In a recent presentation at the 7th World One Health Congress in Singapore, scientists compared portions of the coronavirus set of genes, which led to the discovery that COVID and bats shared genes as recently as 2016. In addition, it narrowed down the time between SARS-CoV-2 jumping from bats to humans. According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the reason for the transmission of COVID from bats to humans is due to deforestation and livestock farming on the cleared land brought wildlife into much closer contact with humans providing the opportunity for a spillover event.
Bat 03
This study conducted by Mallapaty highlighted the difficulty of finding the direct ancestor of the coronavirus. However, this led to research efforts in Asia. Many southeastern Asian scientists have come together to test the sequencing of viruses in different tissues to identify the ancestor. But, due to their struggle to find their ancestors’ people began to believe that the virus came from a Wuhan Virology facility. In the Wuhan Virology facility, according to the United States Senate, researchers and their collaborators collected virus expeditions on large scales to Southern China and Southeast Asia, where bats naturally harbor SARS-related viruses, on an annual basis from 2004 onwards. Scientists collected samples of bat blood, urine, and saliva. The bats and or samples from the bats transmitted covid to humans beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This passage relates to the AP Biology Curriculum, specifically the Immune system and Adaptive immunity. In adaptive immunity, the body uses Pathogen Specific Recognition to target infected cells through a cell-mediated response. The MHC protein on macrophages and dendritic cells displays the foreign antigen and releases cytokine. The cytokines activate the T helper cells to recognize the antigen and start the cell-mediated response. The T helper cells stimulate other T cells to divide into Killer T and T memory cells. The T-killer cells kill infected cells, and T-plasma cells block off and remember the antigen to cause a faster immune response if exposed again. In addition, one can be further protected by receiving the mRNA vaccine. The mRNAs vaccine blocks the spike protein surrounding COVID cells so it can bind to the receptor on human cells that would allow it in.
 Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (51240985843)
Overall, from their rigorous research, these scientists were able to find that SARS-CoV-2’s closest known relative is a bat virus found in Laos called BANAL-52, whose genome is 96.8% identical to SARS-CoV-2. In addition, another virus = is called RaTG13, which is 96.1% identical. They did this using a method of isolating viruses from bats and comparing their genomes. All these percentages reveal that the virus has undergone between 40-70 years of evolution. On the other hand, some researchers say that comparing whole-genome sequences ignores the role of recombination in virus evolution. Recombination is a description of DNA made by combining genetic material from 2 different sources. In this process, pieces of RNA could be very different from SARS-CoV-2, suggesting they are more distantly related, whereas other fragments that are much more similar imply a closer relationship. Therefore to account for recombination, researchers compared bat and pangolin genes and split them into segments and smaller nucleotide segments. At that point, each segment was evaluated with a subset to estimate how recently SARS-CoV-2 shared a common ancestor with a bat or animal virus.
This topic grabbed my attention because I was reflecting on my interactions with animals. Besides domesticated animals, the only animals I have had true interactions with are bats and birds. In addition, since the pandemic, I heard about the role bats play in the spread of COVID but never took the time to understand their involvement. In short, I took this opportunity to educate myself on these creatures that hang upside down and turned our world upside down.

Is the recently discovered hidden cavity on the SARS-CoV-2 protein a target for drugs?

Many of us have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and have had the virus, leading us to become used to the virus being prevalent in our lives during the past few years. Even though a successful vaccine has been rolling out for a while now, new therapies have not yet been discovered for future strains. Finding new therapies for the virus remains a major priority in the field of science, even if many of us have been protected already. This issue remains a priority because new variants and strains have been continuing to emerge, and some resist present therapy mechanisms.


The most effective approach to attempting to combat the virus is addressing the proteins on the surface of therapeutic targets, known as spike proteins. The spike protein (S proteins) located on the surface of the virus leads to its spiky protrusions, and its mechanism to enter human cells. Like we learned in AP Biology class, the spike proteins of the virus latch to cells by matching with a specific receptor on a cell’s surface. The spike proteins of the virus have to latch on to the new cell to infect. Successful messenger RNA vaccines properly target this spike protein, which is the main goal when creating new therapies for viruses. 

                                             Spiky appearance of SARS CoV-2 virus

Luigi Gervasio, a chemistry and structural/molecular biology professor at University College London, and his team have been working towards addressing this issue. By partnering with the University of Barcelona’s research team, the two teams took the first steps to discover a possible mechanism for future drugs to detect and protect against the SARS CoV-2 Virus. Through thorough research and investigation, they uncovered a “hidden” cavity on the surface of a prominent infectious agent of the virus known as Nsp1. The team was able to make this discovery by testing small molecules that had the potential to bind to the Nsp1 cavity. The team identified one, 5 acetylaminoindane, which is essential for the development of new drugs against viruses. They concluded that this cavity permitted the calculation of the cavity’s atomically spatial arrangement, which will allow the development of these drugs.

The results of their breakthrough findings set the stage for developing new therapies that will be able to target the NSp1 protein against SARS-CoV-2 and present Nsp1 proteins in future coronavirus strains. Not only will this finding be impactful for targeting SARS-CoV-2 and future variants, but also new cavities on the surface of other proteins that have yet to be found by scientists. Finally, this research is monumental for both SARS-CoV-2 and virus treatment in years to come!  


The COVID-19 Vaccine: How, What, and Why

We have all seen the news lately – COVID, COVID, and more COVID! Should people get the vaccine? What about the booster shot? Are vaccines more harmful than COVID-19? Will my child have birth-defects? This blog post will (hopefully) answer most of your questions and clear up a very confusing topic of discussion!

Discovery of monoclonal antibodies that inhibit new coronavirus(Wuhan virus)

First off, what are some potential effects of COVID-19? They include, but are certainly not limited to, shortness of breath, joint pain, chest pain, loss of taste, fever, organ damage, blood clots, blood vessel problems, memory loss, hearing loss tinnitus, anosmia, attention disorder, and the list goes on. So, our next question naturally is: what are the common effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine? On the arm that an individual receives the vaccine the symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling. Throughout the body, tiredness, a headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea can be experienced. To me, these effects seem much less severe than COVID-19’s!

COVID-19 immunizations begin

Now that we have covered effects, you are probably wondering what exactly the COVID-19 Vaccine does – will it make it impossible for me to get COVID-19? Will I have superpowers? Well, you may not get superpowers, but your cells will certainly have a new weapon, which we will discuss in the next paragraph! The COVID-19 Vaccine reduces “the risk of COVID-19, including severe illness by 90 percent or more among people who are fully vaccinated,” reduces the overall spread of disease, and can “also provide protection against COVID-19 infections without symptoms” (asymptomatic cases) (Covid-19 Vaccines Work).

So, how does the vaccine work? Many people think that all vaccines send a small part of the disease into us so our cells learn how to fight it at a smaller scale. However, this is not the case with the COVID-19 vaccine! As we learned in biology class, COVID-19 Vaccines are mRNA vaccines which use mRNA (genetic material that tells our cells to produce proteins) wrapped in a layer of fat to attach to cells. This bubble of fat wrapped mRNA enters a dendritic cell through phagocytosis. Once inside of the cell, the fat falls off the mRNA and the strand is read by ribosomes (a protein maker) in the cytoplasm. A dendritic cell is a special part of the immune system because it is able to display epitopes on MHC proteins on its surface.


After being made by the ribosomes, pieces of the viral surface protein are displayed on the surface of the dendritic cell (specifically the MHC protein), and the cell travels to lymph nodes to show this surface protein. At the lymph nodes, it shows the epitope to other cells of the immune system including T-Helper Cells. The T-Helper Cells see what they’re dealing with and create an individualized response which they relay to T-Killer cells that attack and kill virus-infected cells. This individualized response is also stored in T-Memory cells so that if you do end up getting COVID-19, your body will already know how to fight it! The T-Helper Cells additionally gather B-Plasma cells to make antibodies that will keep COVID-19 from ever entering your cells. T-Helper Cells are amazing! As you can see, the vaccine never enters your nucleus, so it cannot effect your DNA! No birth-defects are possible!

You are now equipped with so much information and able to disregard many common misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine! Additionally, you can make an educated decision about whether or not you should get the vaccine. I think yes! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment them and I will answer. Thanks for reading!


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