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  • Dr. Bob

A Shot in the Dark: How the Covid Vaccine Is Different

Immunology is fascinating. If you have any questions about the divine fingerprints in the origin of man, read on this topic. But, I digress.

Traditionally, vaccinations have been weakened or dead viruses injected into your body to trigger the immune response. Once in the body, these particles cause you to make antibodies against the “invader.” Amazingly, your body will remember the fingerprints of that invader so that any subsequent exposure triggers the antibody production. You have immune cells with the equivalent of tiny clipboards with notes on them about every foreign protein they have encountered. They can communicate with each other, call for reinforcements, etc.

The Covid vaccine is a different approach. It uses your body’s natural mechanism for manufacturing proteins to create the immune response to Covid. Here is a biology course in a few sentences:

Nestled inside the nucleus of your body cells is your DNA. That fascinating molecule contains all the information for who you are – your body, your brain, your physiology – all contained in that chemical code. Messages are sent from the cellular control center to other parts of your cells that make protein, called ribosomes.

Imagine the control center inside the nucleus of a cell sending a memo with explicit instructions on it to another department of the cell that is responsible for manufacturing proteins that are necessary to maintain the cell. That memo is messenger RNA (mRNA). The ribosome assembles the parts (amino acids) of the necessary proteins and assembles them according to the instructions encoded in mRNA.

It is important to note that mRNA does its work outside the nucleus of the cell, so it does not affect your DNA.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain strands of mRNA with a special protective coating. This protective coating not only keeps the strands intact upon injection, but also facilitates the absorption of these strands of genetic material into the immune cells near the vaccination site. These strands of mRNA instruct the ribosomes in the cells to manufacture the “spike protein” that appears on the Covid virus particle.

It is the spike protein on the virus particle that allows it to enter our body cells. Without that spike protein, the virus stays outside our cells and hurts no one. Once this occurs, the injected mRNA is broken up and recycled. It never enters the nucleus of our cells, so it cannot alter or affect cellular makeup.

This is an important point because some people have thought that the mRNA might cause uncontrolled cell growth (cancer) or uncontrolled production of foreign proteins (disease). These events do not happen with an mRNA vaccine.

Once the spike protein is produced, the immune response is triggered specifically to that protein. The next time a Covid virus particle is encountered, the body already recognizes the spike protein attached to the virus and will attack and neutralize it. The specificity is important to note: the immune system will only attack that spike protein on the Covid virus.

There are some important takeaways from this:

  • mRNA vaccines are not a new concept. The idea has been around for over a decade.

  • These vaccines have been rigorously tested with scientific methodology according to the standards in the industry.

  • There is no life virus involved, so it is not possible to get Covid from the vaccine.

  • The injected mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell once it is injected. Thus, it does not interact with the DNA.

Why use the mRNA approach? It is faster to produce. It does not involve any infectious elements from the virus. It can also be adapted to target multiple diseases.

I hope this helps with the understanding of how these particular vaccines work. These are different for the one from Johnson & Johnson, and I will go into that one as well.

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