Summary info on how the new mRNA Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) work— no DNA reprogramming, no microchips:

Less Wright
5 min readDec 27, 2020

Short summary of how the US approved mRNA Covid vaccines work (Pfizer, Moderna)

With my work in Covid-19 related AI, I frequently get asked about the various covid vaccines, both approved and pending. Thus, I’m writing this article to provide a useful summary of the current mRNA vaccines, and will likely add another one on what’s pending — how they work, how and why they have been shown to be safe, and what’s potentially coming for vaccines in 2021.

US approved vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — mRNA platform:

The basic path from mRNA to immune response (original image JMarchn, wikimedia) with my crude path additions. mRNA introduced to the bloodstream via injection (purple circle at top), picked up by dendritic cells that read the message and produce Covid-19 spikes on their surface. Immune cells then learn about the spike (light blue boxes) generating a prepared memory for future (actual) Covid-19 challenges.

The only two approved vaccines at the time of this writing in the US are both based on the same core technology- mRNA, or messenger RNA.
For background, your cells produce mRNA all day, every day. They are the ‘post-it’s for intra cellular communication of what proteins the cell needs to build. Normally these messages come from the nucleus of the cell, where the DNA is read in various sections, and then mRNA copies of that info are sent out for production. For vaccines, the process has been updated to allow the mRNA to be introduced via an injection and then leverage your bodies existing protein production process.

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Less Wright

PyTorch, Deep Learning, Object detection, Stock Index investing and long term compounding.