Recently, the Pfiser /BioNtech vaccine was approved for immediate use. The vaccine produced by Moderna will be available in the Spring. Both vaccines are under scrutiny by the pro and anti-vax community. Let us take a closer look and try to understand what it’s all about.
A little bit about the vaccines.
This is a brand new technology for producing medicines. It falls into the field of molecular medicine and immunotherapy. It is the cutting edge of modern medicine. In a nutshell, mRNA based drugs, including the vaccine, communicate with your cells. They are messengers. They whisper to the cell and tell it what to do. In this case, it says, “make a specific protein”. This protein is the same as protein made by the Covid-19 virus. The body’s immune cells respond and then remember the protein. Having been exposed to the protein, when Covid-19 does enter the body, the immune system of the body is prepared to mount a strong response to fight the infection. It works about 95% of the time. That is very, very, good. The Pfiser vaccine is the one being used now in the UK. Let’s explore this further with a Q and A.
Are there risks?
Yes. while most of the known risks are mild, most recently a few people had severe life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). As a result, in the UK, it is not recommended that those with a history of anaphylaxis take the vaccine. If they do, it should be taken at a center prepared to respond. So, why didn’t they know this could happen? The drug was only tested on healthy adult individuals and those with a history of severe allergic reactions were not allowed in the study. What else don’t they know? A lot. They don’t know if the vaccine is safe for pregnant women or children. This does not mean it is not safe. Simply, it has not been tested. They also don’t know the long-term effects as there are no long-term safety studies. They also do not know how people who are not healthy will respond.
mRNA is a messenger, a tool for communication. It is a natural and normal part of how our bodies work. It communicates to a small organ inside the cell (ribosome) that responds and builds proteins. This is not a simple mRNA. This is modRNA. This messenger has been modified and contains a molecule (nucleoside) that is not usually on a strand of mRNA. It is this modification that allows for the coding of the special protein to take place. Because it is modified, it needs to be wrapped in a fatty layer (lipid) when given. This prevents the body from attacking it. Science says it can not affect our DNA. ModRNA does not enter the nucleus of a cell where our DNA lives. Hence, the genome of the cell is not changed. In nature (our bodies normally), some mRNA can enter the nucleus. The RNA of the HIV virus can alter our cell’s DNA. That does not appear to happen here.
How did they come up with this whole idea?
The process has been explored for its potential in curing many diseases. It may be possible to trigger the growth of new heart muscle (protein) after a heart attack. There are also applications in fighting cancer. This technology was adapted to create the vaccine.
Other things we need to know about the vaccines
Is there any virus in the vaccine?
Is there any non-human DNA in the vaccine?
Is luciferase in the vaccine?
No. Luciferase is an enzyme that produces a bioluminescent chemical allowing signals to be picked up on an instrument outside the body. It is called luciferase because it is derived from the Latin word for “light”. There are many medical and research applications for this technology. There is no evidence that it is being used in the vaccine.
By getting this vaccine, can you be controlled through 5G technology?
While this is a common conspiracy theory, there is no evidence to support this.
Can the technologies be used to create this vaccine eventually be used to influence behavior?
Perhaps, right now this is the stuff of science fiction.
Is there non-human DNA from other animals in the vaccine?
Are Nanoparticles used in the vaccine?
Yes. A nanoparticle is a cluster of atoms or a single molecule. They are extremely small particles- less than 100 nanometers in diameter. They are not robots in the way people think about robots. They are manufactured to have a specific purpose and function. In this case, they aid the delivery of mRNA to the target cell. They have many applications being used today in medicine. It can be said that the mRNA is being delivered in a nanoparticle format. Could be misuses one day? Probably. Are they? There is no evidence suggesting that they are. This too would fall into the realm of science fiction.
Should you get vaccinated?
I believe this is a personal decision. You have to look at the risks and the benefits, both to yourself and to society. There is no “right” answer for everyone. If your service to the world (yoga- dharma) involves being with lots of people or in high covid-risk situations, then you must consider this in your decision making. Front line workers for instance often take higher risks, including vaccines, to continue serving society. It comes with the job. And yes, some get sick from it but society benefits. Others may be at high risk from Covid complications or death due to co-morbidities. This needs to be considered as well. There are two main questions.
- Is the risk to me of Covid-19 or its complications greater than the risk of the vaccine?
- Will getting the vaccine allow me to help other people or society as a whole?
Each person must answer these questions for themselves. Each decision comes with risk.