How does an mRNA vaccine work? Late-stage COVID-19 vaccines use new technology

Vaccines using mRNA technology have been described as safer and more effective.

The scientific community had reason to celebrate, and many more saw a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, with the release of the Pfizer late-stage vaccine trial data that showed a 90 percent effectiveness in protecting against the coronavirus.

Both this vaccine and another stage three trial feature new technology that uses mRNA, or messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid).

Researchers have praised with new form of vaccine, calling is safer and more effective.

What is mRNA?

Messenger RNA is genetic material naturally found in the human body, and it's tasked with delivering instructions from the DNA to determine which proteins are created within cells.

In some viruses, not all, it's the RNA that carries the genetic material, not the DNA.

How does this mRNA vaccine work?

A key characteristic of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, are spike proteins. It's these spike proteins that penetrate and infect healthy cells in the body.

Human cells do not have spike proteins but can still read them when penetrated and infected.

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein was first genetically mapped in February 2020.

How this vaccine triggers an immune system response and protects against the virus is its usage of the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA to trigger the growth of its spike proteins on human cells - only the spike proteins and no other portions of SARS-CoV-2.

The immune system responds defensively by removing the spike proteins, remembering how to recognize and remove SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins.

Once vaccinated, should a person become exposed to the coronavirus, the immune system can respond by removing the spike proteins from SARS-CoV-2, not allowing it to replicate itself by infecting healthy cells.