Why the use of mRNA in Covid-19 vaccines is exciting for science

If you hadn’t already heard, the world got some good news recently regarding the coronavirus after the interim results from Phase 3 clinical trials showed that two vaccine candidates were more than 90 percent effective.

While these vaccines may provide a path towards a world that resembles pre-pandemic life a bit more, there’s another reason to be excited about these vaccines: the vaccines were produced with messenger RNA (mRNA). From a scientific point of view, this is incredibly exciting considering no vaccines using mRNA have ever made it this far in clinal trials.

Now you might be asking: what makes mRNA vaccines so special?

As described by The Scientist, mRNA vaccines work by providing the genetic code for our cells to produce viral proteins. Once these proteins are produced, the body launches an immune response against the virus that allows the person to develop immunity. In theory, mRNA can be used to produce any protein, which is far simpler than manufacturing the proteins themselves or injecting people with an inactivated, attenuated version of a virus as is typically the case when it comes to vaccines.

It must be added that these are only interim results from the clinical trials, meaning the details have yet to be published. Further research and analysis of the results will have to be done in order to explain why these mRNA vaccines have performed much more effectively than previous attempts to use mRNA—although the sheer amount of resources put into developing the vaccine may already provide a clue.

Want to take a more detailed dive into the promise of mRNA vaccines? Have a look right here at this fantastic piece by The Scientist.

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