What is the Covid Vaccine? Biology Lesson

What is the Covid Vaccine? Biology Lesson

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We have a few Covid vaccines by different companies currently available to some. What everyone knows is that this vaccine is different from any other vaccine we have. So, what is the Covid vaccine? 

This post is not to spread fear, conspiracy theories, or become political. I believe that being prepared also means being educated and informed so that we can make the best decisions for our lives. With that being said, I will be using information from Moderna, CDC, and the genome government website to help you understand what the Covid vaccine is and how it works. My hope is that with this information, you will be able to make the best decisions for yourself and your family. 

Please note, I am not a doctor, nurse or anyone in the medical field, please consult with your medical professional for additional information.

Related: Coronavirus Vaccine What are the Dangers of a Quickly Developed Vaccine?

What is the Covid Vaccine? Biology Lesson

What is the Covid Vaccine? Biology Lesson

A Biology Lesson

In order to fully understand the Covid vaccine and how it works, we must first take a step back into high school biology where we learned about DNA and RNA. It’s important to understand what both are so that we can decipher between fact and fiction from online sources. 

What is DNA?

Our DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) contains biological instructions that make all of us unique. It is made up of four types of nitrogen bases. To make DNA even more complicated, its instruction book contains 3 billion bases and about 20,000 genes on 23 pairs of chromosomes. 

DNA contains all the instructions needed for us to develop, survive, and reproduce! However, DNA cannot do this on its own. To carry out these functions to help us develop, survive, and reproduce, DNA must be converted into messages that can be used to make proteins. 

What are Proteins?

Proteins are complex molecules that do most of the work in our bodies. 

What is RNA?

RNA is an acronym for ribonucleic acid. It is physically different from DNA but is similar. RNA is the carrier of genetic information. It is basically a single strand copy of DNA. There are several types of RNA:

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) mRNA accounts for just 5% of the total RNA in the cell. 
  • Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) … 
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA) … 
  • Small nuclear RNA (snRNA) … 
  • Regulatory RNAs. … 
  • Transfermessenger RNA (tmRNA) … 
  • Ribozymes (RNA enzymes) … 
  • Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)

For the purpose of this post, we will discuss mRNA…

What is mRNA? 

mRNA is an acronym for messenger RNA. DNA is converted into mRNA so it is readable to our amino acids. mRNA gives instructions or messages to the amino acids which are the building blocks to proteins. 

So, basically you start with DNA, then is transcribed into mRNa, next amino acids translate the mRNA, and then proteins are created. Here’s what it would look like before amino acids translate it:

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COVID Vaccine

Copyright Image Above: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

What is the Covid Vaccine?

Now that we have a little biology knowledge, it’s time to figure out what the Covid vaccine is. The Covid vaccine is a new type of vaccine that uses mRNA. mRNA medicines are not like traditional pharmaceuticals. They are not recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies. Instead, mRNA medicines are sets of instructions. These instructions direct your cells to make proteins to prevent or fight a disease. 

How the Covid Vaccine Works?

Moderna and Pfizer have created similar mRNA vaccines. Because Moderna gives a pretty good explanation, I am using their information to explain how the vaccine works. You can check my facts, here

At Moderna, they are leveraging the role mRNA plays in protein synthesis. Thus, they created mRNA sequences that your cells recognize as if they were produced by your own body. Here’s how they did this:

  1. First, they determined the desired protein sequence (kill Covid). 
  2. Then, they created and designed an mRNA sequence or code that would create the protein in our bodies. 
  3. Next, they deliver the instructions into the cells responsible for making that protein. 
  4. Once the mRNA or code is in the cell, human biology takes over to read the code and build the “spike proteins” needed to beat Covid. 

Basically, the Covid vaccine gives you a code or instructions for your body to create the proteins that tell your body how to beat Covid without the virus ever entering your body. 

It’s kind of like when we write a code for a computer. The computer reads that code and then the computer works the way you want it to. 

How Traditional Vaccines Work

Traditional vaccines work by using a weakened virus or a critical piece of a virus’s protein coat to trick your body into having antibodies against it. However, this requires growing large amounts of a virus, weakening the virus or extracting the critical piece which takes a long time!

Because of traditional vaccines taking so much time, scientists wanted to find an easier way to achieve the same thing. 

Related: What is the Difference Between Flu and Covid-19

Does the Covid Vaccine Change Your DNA?

The short answer is NO! If we understand how biology works (see above), we know that mRNA is created from DNA. Thus, mRNA cannot go backwards and change your DNA. In essence, the vaccine is telling your body that it already got these instructions from your DNA. So, it is not changing your DNA. The vaccine is, however, delivering a code or information into your body that tells your body how to beat Covid. 

How Long Have mRNA Vaccines Been Researched?

Because of wanting an easier method of creating vaccines that didn’t take as long, scientists began exploring other options in vaccine creation 30 years ago. One of these options was mRNA vaccines. This process actually didn’t happen in 9-months. It took decades of research to get mRNA vaccines to work. 

Scientists had to learn a variety of things such as:

  • How to modify mRNA so it did not produce violent immune system reactions.
  • Ways to encourage the immune system cells to gobble up the mRNA as it went through the bloodstream .
  • How to coax the cells to make large amounts of a critical piece of protein
  • And, how to enclose the mRNA to protect it from being destroyed by chemicals in our blood. 
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Why are they Recommending it Even if You Had Covid? 

Along the way, scientists also learned that mRNA vaccines can actually generate a stronger type of immunity because they stimulate the immune system to make antibodies and immune system killer cells. This is a double strike at the virus. 

Why are There Two Doses?

Because Covid is a new virus, our body is not used to it. The first shot of the Covid vaccine prime’s the immune system, helping it to first recognize the virus. It’s my understanding that the second shot strengthens your immune system helping it to achieve an immune response. 

Are There Side Effects?

As with any vaccine, there are side effects, and they affect each of us differently! The most commonly reported side effects that can last several days include:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Less common side effects include:

  • Allergic reaction such as
    • Wheezing
    • Hives
    • Swelling
    • Anaphylaxis shock

Allergic Reactions

Neither Pfizer or Moderna have ingredients that are big allergens. Neither company really knows what exactly could be causing allergic reactions other than a person may be allergic to one of the ingredients in the vaccine. Experts have been eying polyethylene glycol as it is known to cause allergic reactions rarely. 

There have only been about 100 reports of allergic reactions out of about 2 million doses of the vaccine. However, I believe it is very important to know if you could be allergic to it. One way to know is to know all the ingredients that are found in the vaccine. If you are allergic to any of those ingredients, you could have an allergic reaction to the Covid vaccine. 

What’s in Pfizer?

  • mRNA
  • Lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol)
  • Potassium chloride
  • Monobasic potassium phosphate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  • Sucrose

What’s in Moderna?

  • Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)
  • Lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC])
  • Tromethamine
  • Tromethamine hydrochloride
  • Acetic acid
  • Sodium acetate
  • Sucrose

Should I Get the Covid Vaccine?

I can’t give you that answer. I am not a doctor or specialist. What I hope is that you can read the information, understand how it works, and make the best decision for YOU! I recommend doing your own research, talking to your doctor, and seeing what other people have said about getting the vaccine. You can get both positive and negative feedback by joining the group COVID-19 Vaccination Reaction and Feedback

Covid Vaccine Summary

The Covid Vaccine is a new type of vaccine that we have never used before. mRNA vaccinations have been studied for about 30-years, however have never been put into practice until this year. The Covid vaccine works by delivering a synthetic mRNA into your bloodstream. The mRNA has a genetic code or set of instructions that tells your amino acids how to build the protein needed to beat Covid. It’s my understanding that it does not alter your DNA. 

Related: Covid Effects Depression, Suicide, Child/Domestic Abuse

Final Word

I will not put my opinion on the Covid vaccine. Nor will I guide you in the way you should proceed. Knowledge is power. So, I wanted you to be informed. As I did the research, my head was spinning as I dug deeper and deeper into the information I found. When it comes to making critical medical health decisions for you and your family, I’d rely on information from your doctor, other health experts, published medical journals, and other reliable information that may be available on the Internet. So please ask questions, look for answers, and make a decision that is best for you! May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Covid Vaccine Deposit photos_351906518_s-2019

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  1. I’ve read that some of these experimental biologicals contain aborted fetal cells? a virus from monkeys? Have you seen evidence of this in your research? I would really like to know.

    1. Hi Charlene, I just met with my doctor and talked to her about this very thing. She explained to me in lay terms that aborted fetal (fetuses) were taken about 30 years ago before it was outlawed or against the law however we want to say it. Those fetal cells (I hope I’m explaining this the right way) continue to grow and grow. So they are new ones. They are now used for various items like vaccines. She did talk about monkeys, but I should have written it down. I was writing as fast as my two hands could write. I wanted to learn whatever I could to explain to others. Let’s see if a medical professional comments. Linda

      1. Thanks for the reply. I also have been reading that this particular type of vax may cause fertility issues, autoimmune issues, and make some folks susceptible to a cytokine storm reaction? I’m just trying to learn.

    2. Although they don’t CONTAIN aborted fetal cells, both the Moderna and the Pfiizer vaccines are TESTED using them.

    1. Hi Pam, thank you for your kind words. I really needed to learn about them myself, so I have spent hours trying to learn about all the aspects. A lot of it is way over my head, but we can grasp what we need. Stay well, Linda

  2. Linda, thank you for this information. Some of it was way over my head, but still very interesting. I’m still undecided about the vaccine. It scares me to get it and it scares me to not get it. My sis-in-law got hers, and my sister got hers. First doses. So far they are both fine with no side effects. I will probably wind up getting it for hubby and my health. We are both immune compromised.

    1. Hi Deborah, you probably noticed I will never say yay or nay for any medical treatments or vaccines. It’s such a personal choice to get it or not. I think the more we know the better off we will be before making that decision. I had to go to my doctor and have her explain the areas that were so confusing to me. Stay well, Linda

      1. I understand your stance on this. And I don’t blame you one way or another. My reply was just my opinion. I’m not trying to influence anyone else I googling it or not getting the vaccine. It’s a personal choice. I’m scared to tit and cared not to.

          1. I’d never want to influence anyone do something they don’t want to do. I’ve been there and regretted it. Being influenced, but then I was way younger then, too. LOL I don’t mind hearing options, though.

            Linda, I have to say that I love your attitude on all subjects. You have taught me so much. And I want to thank you for all you do for all of us. You are my hero! When I grow up, I want to be like you. LOL I do think we are closer to the same age though. shh I’m not telling. OK, I don’t mind telling my age. 69 and still kicking. Still learning.

  3. I’m immune compromised as well. However, ya couldn’t pay me to get this vaccine. Hard pass from me!
    PS I’ve already had COVID

  4. Linda,
    This is a personal choice and, as you said, I would not attempt to tell folks whether or not to take the vaccine. I will just report on my situation and condition as a means of reference. I am 72 years old, 6’2″ tall and weigh 220 pounds and am very active physically. I have no known allergies to any medications and have never had any adverse reactions to any vaccines. I do have a heart pacemaker as a result that occasionally my pulse rate will drop to about half speed, around 40bpm. This is not life threatening but would make me feel sluggish during one of these episodes if not for the pacemaker, which takes over for the short time until my internal system gets back to work. I am not pacemaker dependent, meaning if it failed I would not die as a result. My cardiologist and PCP both did recommend that I get the vaccine. I received the first injection of the Moderna vaccine on January 27th and have had zero side effects of any kind, not even a sore arm at the injection site. I am scheduled to receive the second injection exactly 4 weeks later on February 24th and will post any negative reaction to this site. However, no posting means no negative reactions.
    Thanks for your in depth report. I will share it with some folks that I know are wondering about the vaccines as this is the best summary I have seen. Great job, Linda, as always.

    1. Hi Harry, thank you for your kind words. I totally agree with you that people need to decide if it’s yay or nay on the vaccine. I was anxious to research all about it without being bias in any way. Great comment, Linda

    1. Hi A, I just met with my doctor and talked to her about this very thing. She explained to me in lay terms that aborted fetal (fetuses) were taken about 30 years ago before it was outlawed or against the law however we want to say it. Those fetal cells (I hope I’m explaining this the right way) continue to grow and grow. So they are new ones. They are now used for various items like vaccines. I wrote this same comment below. If you have any questions, please ask your medical professional. Linda

      1. Hi Miriam, I fixed the “just the facts”! I knew that’s what you meant. I Love it! Thanks for your kind words. I really did the research to help us all kind understand it better. Thanks again, Linda

  5. I am getting the vaccine as soon as it is available to me. I understand most of the side effects are after the second shot, since then your body knows what to fight.

    Thanks for the information.

    1. I have already had both Pfizer vaccines. I didnt even get a red spot on my arm. I had ZERO initial side effects. I am 69, so if I end up growing 3 heads, I don’t have to carry them around a long time!

      1. My elder daughter is a healthcare professional and just got her second Moderna shot on Friday. She felt ill that evening and on Saturday, but today, she’s feeling well and plans to go to work tomorrow. She told me that they have been using this type of vaccine in veterinary medicine for the last 10 years. So 30 years of study and 10 years on animals.

        Still I haven’t made my decision on it yet. The numbers of cases are plummeting from the beginnings of herd immunity…from those who have had it and those who have been immunized.

        I’m too young to get the jab in my state anyway and the rest of the family will have to decide for themselves. At this point, I’m feeling better educated, but still not at the decision stage. I’m just astounded that the seasonal flu has been nearly eradicated by those who have been wearing masks and taking more caution in social distancing, washing hands and using sanitizer.

        1. Hi Debbie, it is interesting about the seasonal flu, we never hear about it, you are so right. So, the masks, washing hands, and social distancing are indeed working. I have 5 family members that work at hospitals in Flagstaff and Salt Lake City, Utah. My daughter had the Moderna shot and no reactions as of now. I don’t know if she got her second shot. I haven’t heard that this type of vaccine has been used in veterinary medicine. That’s interesting. I’m so anxious for workers to get back to work. I’m not sure some of them will ever recover. Crazy times. Linda

  6. Linda, I wish we lived closer, too. You are so good to all of us. You made my eyes mist up. Thank you so much for being here for all of us. Especially me.

  7. I saw an interview with a doctor who said the animals in testing survived the vaccine, but 100% of the animals died when reintroduced to the disease. The vaccine, according to the interview, erases your body’s ability to see the disease. When reintroduced to the disease, the disease went rampant throughout their bodies.

  8. Linda, this is one of your best articles ever. Thank you for doing such fine research. Many of my friends have had the Moderna vaccine and only one reported a bad headache as a side effect. Sore arms was the main complaint.

    Tip, rubbing your arm at an injection site will help disburse the medication and reduce soreness. My doctor informed be of this many years ago and I’ve used it with great success to combat soreness.

    Here in AZ you can only get the vaccine if you are a healthcare worker, are over the age of 75, or have some condition that makes you more susceptible to the virus. Neither Jane nor I qualify as yet and I’m fine with waiting to see how the vaccines work out. I do the wear a mask, wash hands frequently and social distance thing and so far it’s worked well.

    There is a man who stands outside a business here in Kingman on our main drag with a sign reading Vaccines contain poison. Obviously an anti-vaxxer. While I support his right to express his opinions (freedom of speech, you know) I’ve never found such claims to be fact-based. I’ve taken many vaccines during my 70 years and my children were vaccinated against everything available with no ill effects, so my wife and i will probably take the shots when they become available for me.

    1. Hi Ray, thank you for your kind words. I really wanted to share my research as a layperson. I am not a doctor, nurse anyone in the medical field. Here in Utah, they have slots for 70 years and older. LOL! Our whole city is almost over 70!! I will not stand in line for anything, let alone a vaccine. I have seen where people in some town stood in line for 3 hours to get vaccinated. I would not be in that line! LOL! I would have to bring a lounge chair, just kidding. Thanks for the tip on rubbing the injection site. Great comment, Linda

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