These new messenger RNA vaccines are absolutely game-changing. I’m Dr. Jeff Kingsley and welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars with Researchers. Well, technically I am riding in a car, but I’m sitting in front of a train, so I’m not actually going anywhere right now.
The traditional way vaccines are made is time-consuming. Traditional vaccines are grown, and because they’re grown, they’re difficult to make. They take time to make and it’s a lengthier, costlier process. This messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is completely different and it’s showing tremendous promise right now with the COVID-19 successes that we’re having. The Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine that both just got FDA Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) – both use that technology. AstraZeneca’s results that just got released last week is using the old fashioned technology and showed much, much less success.
The mRNA technology is where you’re taking an actual piece of genetic information and giving it to the patient. You’re taking a piece of genetic information that will allow a person to develop antibodies that prevent them from being able to contract COVID-19 (or anything else that you want to do with a vaccine). And because you’re getting a piece of genetic information, and you’re not getting a virus, there’s no way for the patient to actually contract anything.
The traditional vaccine way is you are giving a virus – something that has been weakened or inactivated; you’ve done something to the virus so that it shouldn’t be able to infect somebody. Nonetheless, you’re giving someone a virus. The messenger RNA technology is entirely different. And so from that standpoint, it would be much, much safer. And it’s much easier to create. You saw that when COVID-19 happened and when China released the genetic code, these companies were able to immediately begin developing a vaccine candidate because all they needed was the genetic code. And so this could enable us to respond so much faster to a future pandemic, and there will be a future pandemic. But this also could give us a better ability to create any vaccine candidate, including flu shots, using this technology as opposed to the technology we’ve used in the past. Very exciting, new, new prospects in the world of vaccines because of this new technology. And it’s showing great promise.
Thanks for riding along!
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