As new viruses emerge, we must develop new methods to combat them. Recent advances in science have brought us a new type of vaccine unlike the traditional ones you get for polio, hepatitis, and the flu. You’ll still receive a shot in your arm, but when it comes to the way these new vaccines are produced, you’ll be amazed at the difference between a conventional vaccine and an mRNA vaccine. Keep reading to understand how vaccines such as the new Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines were developed.
Time To Produce
The most exciting difference between these two types of vaccines is how long it takes to produce one over the other. The mRNA vaccine can be made in about a week using the genetic code of a pathogen such as coronavirus. mRNA vaccines—such as the ones from Pfizer and Moderna that protect against COVID-19—are made from DNA templates, and they can be sent to facilities instantly by computer. On the other hand, conventional vaccines must be grown from weakened forms of the virus, which can take months. Conventional vaccines are grown in the eggs of animals. Collecting the virus, adapting it to a lab, and shipping it to medical facilities is a long and complex process.
Working with mRNA has proven slightly safer because scientists use small quantities of the virus for sequencing. Most mNRA vaccines are produced using HPLC columns, which guarantees accuracy throughout the process. When it comes to conventional vaccines, scientists are more at risk of coming into contact with the virus and even exposing their coworkers and loved ones to it.
Your Body’s Response
Both types of vaccines are designed to immunize you. With a conventional vaccine, the shot introduces an antigen that tells your body to produce antibodies, which prepare your body for the next time it may encounter the pathogen. If you receive an mRNA vaccine, your shot instructs your body to produce antigens that will then tell your immune system to produce the antibodies to fight the virus.
Currently, the only types of mNRA vaccines available are the ones that fight COVID-19 (from Pfizer and Moderna) and the Zika virus. All other types of vaccines are traditional, meaning they include antigens produced from the original virus. The differences between a conventional vaccine and an mRNA vaccine highlights the scientific advancements in our community.