Pfizer and BioNTech Vaccine : out of the box thinking !!!

BNT162b2, an mRNA vaccine, straying from the norm. But when it comes to a pandemic, thinking outside the box is necessary to uncover the weaknesses of this newfound evil. they say that the vaccine is 90% effective, so, let's explore;

How it works

Synthesising this vaccine would not have been possible if we did not have the entire sequenced genome of the Coronavirus.

This sequence is responsible for the genes that code for proteins in the virus, so we are able to manipulate this and make a protein from the virus to create an immune response. Specifically, we use the gene that codes for the spike protein on the virus outer layer. This spike protein is responsible for the virus to invade the human cells and when inside they create an immune response, you can learn more about the SARs-CoV-2 here.

We make an mRNA strand which is complementary to the gene sequence for the spike protein, which encases it in a lipid nano particle (LPD). Now we inject the mRNA into the blood stream where it meets a cell and passes through the cell membrane as it is encased in the LPD. Inside the cell it is able to go through protein synthesis and here is when the viral spike protein is made and is then expelled from the cell. From there it will be picked up by a white blood cell and they would create an antibody specific to that exact spike protein. After making an antibody the body will remember how to make them using memory cells. So, when next coming into contact with the virus the body will be able to make antibodies quicker and at a faster rate so they are able to destroy the virus before it makes you ill.

Advantages against the conventional method

The process of developing a conventional vaccine (CV) can take between 10-15 years on average whereas now with the new mRNA vaccine (mV) it can take as little as a week to generate assuming we have the genome on hand. CV do require a large amount of the pathogen to be made, but with mV the synthetic methods mean that no virus is needed to make a batch of mRNA virus. Another advantage of mV is that the synthetic production of the vaccine could offer a more flexible approach to tackling pathogens which are evolving, so therefore we may have quicker responses to the next outbreak. On the other hand CV have a much more specific method of making new vaccines for pathogens that are evolving and so take longer.

Reasons behind anti-vaxxers

Not everyone is on the side of this scientific breakthrough, for various reasons:

one reason may be due to their religious belief, this may be because of the way the vaccine is tested and developed. They test the vaccine on human tissue cells and on animals for the side effects dosage and safety, this has brought up many ethical questions. some may be against the thought that we shouldn't be injecting certain chemicals in the body as the body is holy and should not be artificially manipulated. Some may not opt in for the vaccine due to personal reasons as they may feel like natural immunity of catching the virus and fighting it would be a=better for their body than artificial. In some cases this may be true as of herbal remedies have been seen to cause positive effects against some illnesses.

Safety concerns are a very heavy factor in people getting vaccinated. As this vaccine is very new and the testing has been fast tracked due to the humungous demand for any vaccine against COVID, they may not trust the safety of the drug and that it could have some health concerns and may affect them medically.

Social media is a very persuasive and strong force when it comes to influencing the views and opinions of the republic. So, when people are getting their first impressions of a new vaccine they may be persuaded that the vaccine has bad properties due to unreliable resources on instagram and Facebook or twitter. This reminds me of the Andrew Wakefield case who incorrectly concluded that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism.

The Doctors responsibility

For vaccines to work effectively we need be able to reach herd immunity or close enough that the infection rate is very low and almost eradicated. So, due to the reasons of anti-vaxxers it is the responsibility of the doctor to explain the advantages and disprove any false information the patient may have picked up from unreliable sites. This is where the patient-doctor relationship is very critical and that if a strong relationship is kept, the patient would have more trust in the doctor and help the patient make a much more informed decision about taking the vaccine.

The disadvantages to the distribution of the vaccine

We finally have a vaccine, but we are limited by various problems distributing it. First of all the main problem is that the vaccine must be stored in a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius, this limits the places that we can administer the vaccine as having freezers that strong would only be in a small number of places. the vaccine also needs 2 doses for it to become effective, and this could prove a bit difficult as the managing if these injections may be difficult to watch over. This means that not everyone may get a reliable double dose and the vaccine may not be as effective.

Overall this vaccine would open up doors for many other diseases prevention and may help to eradicate old diseases such as HIV. But also it will lead the path to creating an effective response to new pandemics that we may face in the future. Remember, at this point this article is written the vaccine is not yet distributed, so it will be interesting to see how the vaccine fairs with the projected efficacy and if the problems predicted were accurate. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end.