What Experts Say About a Genetic Vaccine Against Coronavirus: Side Effects, Storage Details and How it Works
Today, about a thousand different vaccines for coronavirus disease are being developed around the world. But so far, only three of them have demonstrated high performance indicators. Thus, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines received 95 and 94% efficiency rate respectively. AstraZeneca is approaching them with 70%.
A massive campaign to vaccinate vulnerable populations has already been launched in the US, Canada and the UK. In Ukraine, this process will begin at the start of the new year. It is known that on December 11, COVAX approved Ukraine's request for vaccines. 16 million doses will be allocated free of charge.
However, in Ukrainian society, people have concerns about new vaccines. How do they affect the body? Are they really safe and effective if they were invented so quickly? What are the side effects of vaccination? Which of them will be brought to Ukraine and when?
These questions were answered in detail by the Candidate of Chemical Sciences Yuriy Halavka and genetic scientists Oleksandr Kolyada and Oksana Piven for UP.Zhyttia.
How does the new RNA vaccine work?
Until 2020, all vaccines were based on the protein of the virus. This required a significant investment of time and money. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are RNA vaccines, and they really don't look like traditional drugs designed to provide immunity against disease.
No viral protein is used in the manufacture of an RNA vaccine. Instead, it contains a genetic instruction (RNA molecule) that teaches the body to make both this protein and protective antibodies at the same time. Oksana Piven notes that a vaccine based on an RNA molecule is much cheaper to manufacture and requires much less effort to create.
AstraZeneca is slightly different from the first two types. There is no virus in it either, but the mechanism of its operation is based on a viral vector, where a monkey adenovirus transmits genetic information about the pathogen to the cells (it is not pathogenic for humans). The body then produces pieces of the Sars-Cov-2 protein coat, which the immune system remembers. This principle of operation provides AstraZeneca with greater stability than Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
What about the side effects?
Pfizer/BioNTech has been tested by nearly 39,000 volunteers. Only 2% of people had a fever. Among the 30,000 people vaccinated with Moderna, only 2% of people noted a high temperature, and less than 10% – fatigue, pain in muscles and joints. There were also complaints of nausea, headache, chills and swollen lymph nodes.
Scientist Oleksandr Kolyada notes that these are all standard side effects that arise from almost any vaccine.
AstraZeneca is at the testing stage, now about 10,000 volunteers have participated, so it is too early to talk about identifying all the side effects.
Why was it so quickly invented?
Public fears about the speed of antivirus creation are quite justified. Indeed, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to the appearance of first vaccines, it took about nine months, while this process usually stretches over years. Many people worry if it is really safe and of high quality.
Experts say that in this case, the speed of the invention is possible because of the very technology of the RNA vaccine, which does not require as much time as the protein one. It is worth considering the fact that considerable investments were made in its development.
According to Oleksandr Kolyada, the mechanism itself has been developed for a long time, they began to study it almost 30 years ago. There was simply no need for mass production as such. When the coronavirus infection acquired the scale of a pandemic, the manufacturers had already formed a methodology. The geneticist assures that this vaccine has passed all the mandatory testing stages. In order for a person to develop immunity, two doses are needed.
Is vaccine content dangerous?
The composition of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca is harmless.
Scientists speculate that RNA development may be even safer than all other types of vaccines. Oleksandr Kolyada emphasizes that there are no infectious agents in such drug, so it is impossible to get infected.
Also, vaccines do not contain any dubious substances like aluminum or mercury salts, which opponents of vaccinations are so afraid of. And even more so, there are no any 5G chips in the genetic vaccine.
“Hydrophosphates contained in the RNA vaccine maintain the required acidity level, chlorides help to protect biomolecules from destruction, sucrose is used as a preserving agent,” explains Yuriy Halavka, Candidate of Chemical Sciences.
If this is a genetic vaccine, can it somehow affect the body in the future?
Geneticists Oleksandr Kolyada and Oksana Piven argue that the RNA vaccine is very unstable, even the enzymes of our body destroy it. In the short time that it remains in the body, the vaccine simply cannot have any significant effect to bring changes in the future.
Oleksandr gives a simple example of a tomato. If you touch it, then the protein elements of bacteria that lived on the tomato fruit will remain on the body. After a while, they will simply disappear. Just like an RNA molecule.
Oksana Piven added that the start of the use of RNA molecules in a vaccine against coronavirus could give an impetus to the use of this mechanism in other drugs, which will change the future of medicine.
Is Ukraine ready to receive vaccines?
Genetic antivirus requires strict adherence to storage rules. Medical institutions must have special equipment that ensures temperatures of -60/-80 °C.
According to immunologist Fedir Lapiy, problems with this may arise in Ukraine, since most of the boxes that are available in public health institutions are already worn out or out of order. The required temperature regime can be provided for no more than 60,000 doses. It is too little. Acting Director General of the Center for Public Health Ihor Kuzin adds that with this said, it is likely that Ukraine will buy a vaccine that is stored at above-zero temperature.
Oleksandr Kolyada assures that the experience of using special refrigerators in Ukraine has already been there and the manufacturer, in particular, Pfizer is ready to provide these boxes for transportation. Deputy Minister of Health Viktor Lyashko said that Ukrvaktsina and private enterprises will participate in the logistics process involving vaccines.
“The exact information about the manufacturer that will provide the vaccine for Ukraine and the timing of its delivery shall be expected in January 2021,” says Ihor Kuzin.
Biohacking Conference Kyiv dedicated to effective methods of preserving and supporting health was organized in November 2020. At the event, Oleksandr Kolyada spoke about modern approaches to life extension. Results of the event can be found here >>>