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New line of COVID vaccines work differently than traditional immunizations

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 5:03 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Each year many people get their annual flu shot. Or babies being immunized so they don’t get sick from measles or become crippled from polio.

The vaccines work by placing a weakened for dead piece of the infectious virus or bacteria into the body to stimulate antibodies which in turn, prime the body to combat the virus or bacteria should it enter our system.

The new vaccines get the same end result but they do it in a different way,

“For now what we know is, the vaccine is protecting people from getting serious symptoms,” says Dr Subhash Verma with the University of Nevada Reno Microbiology and Immunology Department. The new vaccines are called MRNA vaccines.

Graphics which depict the COVID virus often show a round structure with prongs sticking out of it. The prongs have crowns on them. Those crowns are proteins. It is these proteins which infect the body and cause disease.

With MRNA, the vaccine delivers into the body a protein, similar to the COVID. The body’s cell begins to produce the protein which eventually leave the cell. Antibodies recognize the protein as an invader and attack it---again priming the body should the real COVID virus come along.

While some studies show the MRNA vaccine is 90% effective against COVID, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Especially considering here in Northern Nevada where researchers discovered we have a slight variation of the COVID virus in some patients.

“There are multiple factors to change the efficacy of these vaccines,” says Dr. Verma. “But I personally believe the vaccine will be highly effective. Maybe slightly different in terms of ten percent or so maximum. But it will be mostly effective,” says Dr. Verma.

Astra Zeneca announced it had a COVID vaccine on November 23, 2020. It is the third vaccine behind Pfizer and Moderna.

There is a difference however with the vaccine from Astra Zeneca. The vaccine is cheaper by about $18.00 per dose and does not need to be stored in super subzero temperatures—making storage and transportation less of a problem

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