My intent is neither to dissuade you from getting the new coronavirus vaccine nor to encourage you to partake therein. The primary objective of this article is to provide pertinent information and personal perspective that may help you make a prudent decision. Of course, this is assuming the certainty of being subjected to stringent restrictions were you not to be inoculated leaves you with a choice…
Presently, the only COVID-19 vaccines being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use are mRNA vaccines. Accordingly, the mRNA vaccine will be the focal point of this brief exposition.
When discussing the new vaccine (although considering its mechanisms, “vaccine” does not particularly seem like an apt term), what ought to be mentioned at the onset is its novelty, as the product is based on a nascent vaccine technology that has only been authorized for emergency use in the United States yesterday (at the time of writing).
As opposed to traditional innoculations that contain inactive or attenuated forms of a pathogen, the mRNA vaccine introduces into the cytoplasm of the cell, via intramuscular injection, an engineered, instruction-encoded molecule termed messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). The molecule subsequently directs the cells to synthesize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antigen—the same type of protein the coronavirus uses to gain entry into the host cell. This culminates in the immune system’s antibody response, thereby imparting protection against the infection.
Essentially, this synthetic (laboratory-made) “software”—the mRNA—hijacks the natural translation process of conversion of mRNA sequences into amino acids, allowing the vaccine to reprogram the cells of the body and ultimately modify and control critical physiological functions.
Owing to this innovative technology’s ability to artificially instruct the cells to manufacture theoretically any desired protein, a plethora of opportunities that could effectuate significant medical advancements is presented, albeit not without potential risks.
Upon conducting an analysis of the vaccine’s innate mechanisms, it becomes clear that the very attributes that make the mRNA vaccine technology so promising, also confer it the capability to potentially be of considerable detriment to human health.
Indeed, the synthetic mRNA inherently interferes with the critical, intricate, and immensely complex cellular processes, disruption of which can result in aberrant biological function and thus potentially produce disastrous unintended outcomes.
Aside from having been shown to produce typical short-term vaccine-related adverse events such as fatigue, irritation at the site of injection, and elevation in body temperature, the mRNA vaccine has demonstrated the ability to induce systemic inflammatory response, cause bio-distribution and persistent expression of the spike protein immunogen, and lead to possible development of autoreactive antibodies that attack the immune system. Disruption of type I interferons (IFNs) can appreciably amplify systemic inflammation and manifest in multifarious autoimmune maladies. Moreover, the “excess” of extracellular RNA and the anti-mRNA antibodies in blood plasma pose further risks of pathological conditions such as intravascular coagulation and edema.
Due to the fact that mRNA vaccines do not contain infectious material in the form of a live or inactivated virus and do not need to be cultured in egg embryos, many see them as a safer alternative to traditional vaccines. This view, in my opinion, is deeply misguided, as it appears to entirely ignore the inartistic dangers of modifications of the delicate cellular enzymatic functions by artificially-engineered exogenous agents.
Some people have suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine could genetically modify our DNA. Although, considering the mechanism that the mRNA vaccine utilizes, this is an unlikely scenario, the possibility of genomic alteration and the eventual onset of concomitant adverse, and likely irreversible effects, cannot be entirely ruled out.
As opposed to DNA vaccinations, which, due to their risks, are authorized only for veterinary use, mRNA shots are not engineered with the idea of targeting the nucleus that harbors our DNA. Rather, as stated above, the function of the mRNA strands is to stimulate antigen production. This takes place outside of the cell’s nucleus, in the cytoplasm.
An event in which a DNA molecule (complementary DNA) is produced from an RNA template and “inserted” into the nucleus is called reverse transcription—the opposite of transcription whereby an RNA molecule is synthesized from DNA sequence. Reverse transcription necessitates the presence of two enzymes: reverse transcriptase (RT) and integrase (IN). These enzymes are generally found in retroviruses such as HIV, HTLV-1 (Human T- cell leukemia virus), and the retrovirus-like Hepatitis B virus. Additionally, there are also human endogenous reverse transcriptase-encoding retroviruses (HERVs) that are embedded throughout our genomes.
Reverse transcriptase reverse transcribes the messenger RNA into complementary DNA (cDNA). This occurs in the cell’s cytoplasm. Afterwards, cDNA, along with integrase and other proteins are transported into the nucleus to be integrated into the DNA. [In normal retroviral reverse transcription process, other components are also at play as part of the pre-integration complex (PIC).]
Despite the low probability of reverse transcription occurring in the case of the mRNA vaccine, it cannot be ascertained that the mRNA molecule is not able to access the necessary reverse transcription primers/complexes that could facilitate such action. Fundamentally, the human body is an incredibly dynamic, sophisticated organism wherein extraordinarily complex dance of biochemical activities happens at any given moment. Therefore, in my opinion, the possibility of DNA integration cannot be completely eliminated without careful genome examination years after the cells have been treated with the synthetic mRNA.
Assuredly, the effects, both immediate and long-term, of the COVID-19 disease are not to be underestimated, especially by the elderly and those who are combating comorbidities. Nonetheless, the decision to take the new coronavirus vaccine should be carefully evaluated by each individual.
As stated perviously, the new technology undoubtedly has many advantages and carries prodigious potential to catalyze colossal medical breakthroughs, especially in the area of cancer treatment. As a vaccine, due to its rapid, scalable, egg-independent production, the absence of an actual microbe (which minimizes risk of infection), and the capacity of being programmed in a way that could confer protection against virtually any microbe, mRNA shots may well end up becoming superior to traditional inoculations. However, I believe that this can happen only after at least a decade of rigorous clinical trials and thorough analysis of the data.
Messenger RNA vaccines are brand new, and without exhaustive clinical trials, not a single person on the planet knows the long-term ramifications of such cellular modifications. One may reasonably infer that any potential serious, unintended consequences will take time to discover.
One thing is an absolute certainty: in a few years, we will be able to measure the long term biological effects of this experimental technology.