BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – Eliminating a novel virus might require a novel approach. Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer are using messenger RNA, or mRNA, to produce their vaccines.
This new technology has never before received regulatory approval.
If the mRNA vaccines make it to the general public, doctors say they will look indistinguishable from traditional vaccines.
However, they work in a different way. Instead of injecting a dead or weakened version of the virus into the patient’s body, doctors will be injecting the genetic information to produce the antigen, or antibodies, to fight the disease.
Companies are developing mRNA vaccines to combat coronavirus, and people seem to be on the fence about the new method.
“I honestly don’t know. I guess I would probably wait for a while and see how things go before I would get the vaccine,” said Dickinson Resident Darcy Kovash.
But, doctors say the approach could actually be safer than traditional vaccines.
Instead of injecting patients with a dead or weakened version of the vaccine, doctors will inject mRNA, which is the molecule component of the virus that tells cells what to build.
“It doesn’t run any of the risks of being, for example, a live pathogen because it’s not alive. It’s one little piece of it. It can’t cause an infection in and of itself. It actually has no potential at all to cause an infection. Where, some live viruses do,” said North Dakota Department of Health Infectious Disease Physician Paul Carson.
Once the cells, build a replica of the coronavirus antigen, the body will produce antibodies to help fight it off.
mRNA vaccines are also easier to manufacture.
“It’s, nowadays, not all that complicated to produce, and there is a way to mass produce it fairly quickly. It’s really a novel approach. Sometimes when you’re dealing with a novel virus, you have to deal with a novel approach,” said Sanford Health Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo.
Due to its newness, there is no track record for doctors to verify how safe or effective using mRNA will be.
“No one can tell you that one vaccine approach is going to work better than the other. This is a situation where you have to try what you got. You have to use it. You have to look at the data,” Mateo said.
Mateo says it will be impossible to tell which vaccine is superior in fending the coronavirus until it’s been used by the public over the span of a few years.
Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines will need to be approved by the FDA before they can be administered to the public.
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