Two Covid 19 vaccines? You mean we get a choice? Nope, not really. Yes, two vaccines have been approved but we better be happy to have one or the other and don’t get choosy. Let’s take a look at how the vaccines are made and a bit more about them.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – “U.S. regulators authorized Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, a week after granting the first U.S. authorization to Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s coronavirus shot.” So to be exact: Pfizer (a US company) and BioNTech (a German company) vaccine was approved first and one week later Moderna (a Massachusetts’s company) received U.S. approval.
Are they the same? Are they different? From what I could find they are made the same way (which we’ll go into in a minute), they’re equally effective and equally safe. BUT the temperature required to keep them stable long-term is vastly different.
Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit). Once thawed, it can only be refrigerated for 5 days. The vaccine requires a special shipping container packed with dry ice to keep it at the proper temperature.
Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at standard freezer temperatures of -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) for up to six months. After it’s thawed, it can be kept in a refrigerator for up to 30 days. Sounds a little more consumer friendly, doesn’t it?
Now I imagine you’ve heard that they are made differently from the other vaccines, for example the flu vaccine? Other vaccines are made from dead or attenuated (weakened) viruses which incite the body to repel them.
Now we get into RNA and DNA. You’ve all heard of DNA: With a swipe from your mouth or a hair from your head scientists can now prove if you really fathered that child or if you are that axe-murderer.
The clearest explanation I found was from “Technology Network: DNA encodes all the genetic information and is the blueprint from which all biological life is created”. So, pretend all this DNA information is on a thumb drive (the little doohickey that can record all the info on your computer, otherwise called a “flash drive”). How do you read it? “RNA is the reader that decodes this flash drive.”
Both vaccines use RNA technology. “The instructions spur the immune system into action, turning the body into a virus-zapping vaccine factory.” Again let me emphasize: No actual virus is contained in the vaccines. It can’t give you the virus.
Now, you’ve all seen picture of the little round corona virus with its spikey hairdo. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines target those spikes on the surface of the coronavirus that it uses to smash its way into healthy human cells. The spikes also give the family of viruses their distinctive name. They’re supposed to look like a crown or corona.
One last note: a new “mutation” of the Corona virus was detected in September in London, England; by November, one fourth of all the case diagnosed were from that mutation. By mid-December, two thirds of the cases were from that mutation.
Scientists say that viruses mutate all the time. This just happens to be 70% more transmissible (according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he’s the one with the covid-like mussed-up hairdo). All joking aside, we are assuming the vaccine will target this mutation; there is no evidence that it won’t. Please, God, keep the British safe and, please, let them keep their latest discovery to themselves.