What you need to know about messenger RNA vaccines

  • by VaccineHealthCenter

Towards the end of 2019, WHO announced a new coronavirus strain, the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, to be causing Corona Virus Disease (Covid 19) that was fast-hitting Wuhan in China. Like wildfire, the virus spread fast, covering more than half the total world's countries within three months. As of now, there is barely any country that has not lost a person to the virus. When the pandemic started hitting the world, the health researchers and practitioners got a wake-up call- there was a need to develop vaccines for the fast-spreading virus. That saw the introduction of many vaccines, including the messenger RNA (mRNA). This article shares what you need to know about mRNA vaccines.

Is the mRNA vaccine new?

Many people, including the patients you will meet in the course of your duty as a doctor, think that the mRNA vaccine is a new vaccine. To them, researchers created the vaccine when Covid 19 pandemic struck the world. However, this is a distorted view. mRNA vaccine has been on the market for a long time. For example, mRNA technology has been employed in making cancer trial vaccines since 2011. This shows that although the Covid 19 vaccines by Pfitzer and BioNTech are the first mRNA vaccines to go through all the clinical stages successfully and obtained a license for use, the technology has been in the medical field for at least a decade or more.

How does the mRNA vaccine work?

While the typical vaccines involve the introduction of an attenuated form of a virus into the body and letting the body react as though the virus was alive and not deactivated, the technology used in mRNA vaccine development is slightly different. In this technology, special cells are introduced to the body. These cells have instructions that trigger the body to produce a protein(s), which will then produce an antibody for the body's immune response to viruses. The good news is, the mRNA vaccines have been used to protect the body against other diseases, including flu.

How the Covid 19 mRNA vaccine works

Here are steps that explain how the mRNA vaccine work;

  • Introduction; the process starts with a patient receiving the vaccine on the upper right arm. When vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine, special instruction cells are introduced to the immune cells. Once in the cells, the mRNA makes a protein piece. Immediately the protein-making process ends, the cells break the instruction cells and get rid of them
  • Antibody development; the developed protein in the initial stage then gets exposed to the body surface. The immune system recognizes the protein as a foreign member and develops an immune response against it by developing antibody as it would do with the Covid 19 virus
  • Covid 19 protection; the body is now better prepared to fight the infectious virus because of the antibody.

Can mRNA interfere with the DNA?
This is yet another question patients will ask. What will you tell them? Well, while many people think that the virus alters the DNA, the claim is baseless and has no scientific ground. Besides, it’s an entirely false idea. In his interview about the mRNA vaccine and the effectiveness, Michel Goldman, a professor of immunology and founder of the I3h Institute for Interdisciplinary Innovation in healthcare at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, assured doctors and patients that the mRNA will not affect one’s DNA. It’s only out of ignorance that people relate the mRNA to DNA alteration.

Were there shortcuts in the Covid 19 mRNA vaccine development?

Admittedly, developing the mRNA vaccine for Covid took place faster than the typical vaccine development process does. This rose a concern as people thought that the health research agencies took shortcuts. The truth, however, is, mRNA platform was already in existence even before Covid 19 set in. Health agencies were already doing trials to find out whether the vaccine could work for cancer and flu. Therefore, when the need arose to develop mRNA Covid 19 vaccines, the health agencies used the already existing platforms. Moreover, the government worked together with private companies to fast complete the three clinical stages of a vaccine test, i.e., phase1 (animals), phase 2, and phase 3(people).

Is the mRNA Covid 19 vaccine safe?

When the vaccine was released on people while in the testing stage, it revealed no negative impacts. Usually, the side effects of a vaccine will surface within the first four months. That was not the case for mRNA vaccine, it produced no side effects. However, in some rare cases, vaccines might produce negative side effects years after they are used. That’s why the health agencies are on the lookout for any negative effects that the vaccine could trigger.


The mRNA Covid 19 vaccine is not a new vaccine, the mRNA technology has been around for years. So far, the vaccine has not had any negative side effects, but health agencies are on the lookout for any negative signs that some vaccines produce long after they are used. Rest assured that the vaccine will not affect the patient's DNA.