Tag: Pfizer

What are the COVID-19 RNA vaccines and how do they work?

Infographic on RNA vaccines. The genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is made up of RNA. Scientists have isolated the part of this code that contains the instructions for making the virus's spike protein, and this is what is used in RNA vaccines. The synthetic RNA is packed inside lipid nanoparticles to protect it from being broken down by our bodies' enzymes. Our cells follow the RNA instructions to produce the virus spike protein, which then triggers an immune response. RNA is easily made in a lab so these vaccines are quick to develop. The RNA is broken down by normal processes in our cells, so can't cause infection. Some RNA vaccines must be stored at low temperature to keep them stable. There are two different types of RNA vaccine: mRNA vaccines and saRNA vaccines. The structures of mRNA and saRNA vaccines are similar but saRNA can produce copies of itself once it's inside a cell, so can be given in smaller doses. The main RNA vaccines currently approved, Pfizer and Moderna, are both mRNA vaccines.
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By now, we’re all familiar with the image of coronavirus. The spikey blob peppers news websites, looms behind reporters during bulletins and frequently punctuates your Twitter doom-scrolling. More recently, the news accompanying this image has taken a positive turn, with promising results from the COVID-19 vaccine trials. It’s the iconic spikes of the coronavirus spikey blob that are a key part of how these vaccines work.

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