Virology and Immunology
Professor Larry Herman
Objective: Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are new, and many practitioners do not know how they are different from other vaccines. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of mRNA vaccine history, enabling technologies, safety, and efficacy. Messenger RNA vaccines are significant in the effort to combat Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and they may prove to be the future of vaccine technology.
Method: A literature search utilizing Google and Google Scholar was conducted using the search terms “mRNA vaccines” AND “history”, “enabling technology”, “COVID-19”, “safety”, “efficacy”, “lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology”, “herd immunity” and “side effects”. A second literature search utilizing the same search engines was performed using search terms “COVID-19 vaccines” AND “vaccine hesitancy”. A total of thirty-five references were selected based on relevance.
Results: Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trials revealed the experimental group of vaccinated people had a low number of side effects, less severe infection, and no deaths from COVID-19. A review of earlier mRNA vaccine studies also reveals favorable results. Messenger RNA technology was compared to traditional vaccine technology and demonstrated advantages in safety, efficiency, and speed of development.
Conclusion: Evaluation of clinical data from mRNA vaccine trials and Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) demonstrate mRNA vaccines to be safe and effective for preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19. A review of technology and manufacturing demonstrates mRNA vaccines can be developed faster than traditional vaccines and are a safe and efficient option for the production of future vaccines. As clinicians, we play a critical role in educating our patients. Misinformation spreads easily, and people will look to their healthcare providers to provide confidence that mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.
Woolley K. A Clinician’s Guide to mRNA Vaccines: Enabling Technology, Safety, and Efficacy. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2021; 4(1).
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