Messenger RNA are produced naturally in your cells. mRNA is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is created in the nucleus based on a subset of your DNA, being a particular gene. The mRNA is basically a complementary copy of a specific gene which moves out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm of the cell (Brody, 2020). Within the cytoplasm of a cell are ribosomes, tiny organelles which can be found floating or attached to the Endoplasmic Reticulum, both being protein-making factories to make a type of protein, being copies of the mRNA or gene, for use in the body (British Society for Cell Biology, 2020; Moderna, 2020).
mRNA vaccines are a new technology that tries to simulate a coronavirus infection, without actually having an infection, to train the immune system cells (the white blood cells) to recognise a coronavirus infection in the in the future and to respond more quickly to the infection. The mRNA in the vaccine is injected into the body, somehow gets into cells, which trains the cells to produce a piece of protein which matches the "spike protein" on the surface of the coronavirus, which the cells release and this stimulates an immune system response and trains the immune system to recognise and destroy the virus in a future infection (Pfizer, 2020). Allegedly.
The mRNA vaccines may be seen as having some advantages over other types of vaccines, which typically contain a dead form of the virus or bacteria, or a live (but weakened) form of pathogens. In many cases, as has been shown in many published studies, the live viruses in vaccines can become re-activated to cause the actual infection to which you are supposedly being "immunised" against. The mRNA vaccines do not actually contain the coronavirus, but a portion of the "spike protein", there is a very low risk of actually contracting COVID-19 from the vaccine (European Commission Research and Innovation, 2020).
mRNA vaccines are a very new development and not used or approved for use in vaccines before. Hence their testing for safety and efficacy MUST be done thoroughly and properly, and not rushed or fast-tracked because of some perceived emergency. The USA has an "Emergency Use Authorisation" or EUA which allows medical devices, which includes vaccines, to be fast-tracked (ie, where testing requirements are reduced) to speed up the development and delivery of such devices where there is no other option for treatment (FDA, 2020). But there is another option, it's called "your immune system"!
One possible reason why we have seen so much opposition to the drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) being recommended for its antiviral effects by governments and health departments or organisations or medicine regulators, is that if HCQ was recommended officially by the authorities, it would negate and stop the EUA requirements for any fast-tracked vaccine for COVID-19! In such a scenario, the COVID vaccine manufacturers would have to stick to the full and proper testing protocol for their products, which would take on average 7 years or more to complete in order to test, apply for approval and then produce their products. In our current COVID situation we have seen vaccine manufacturers skip standard testing processes, use unscientific testing protocols, announce a fraudulently-derived effectiveness percentage of their products, and PRODUCE tens of millions of vaccine doses, while they are still testing their product, with the regulator approval seeming to be a mere rubber stamp formality without the usual thorough investigations or analyses done to confirm the safety and effectiveness before being approved for public use.
The mRNA vaccines will not prevent COVID-19 infections. They MAY (or may not) prime your immune system to more quickly recognise a future pathogen displaying the same coronavirus spike proteins and this MAY (or may not) result in the production of antibodies. In some published studies, having a level of antibodies does not mean that you are "immune" to that infection! Multiple doses of the mRNA vaccines are needed, as the first dose does not always cause production of antibodies, leading to an initial low efficacy rate.
The mRNA vaccines will not prevent the transmission of the virus to others. It takes time (approximately 2 weeks) from the start of an infection for the immune system to ramp up its production of white blood cells to fight the infection. During this time, you can be infecting other people around you.
The mRNA vaccines will not stop an active COVID-19 infection in someone.
I still have some questions about the mRNA vaccines which need investigating and answering, because I am far from satisfied with the (lack of) thorough testing being done on these new vaccines:
1) How do the mRNA molecules in the vaccine get INTO a cell to produce the coronavirus spike proteins, when the mRMA molecules are normally only RELEASED from a cell?
2) For how long will a cell continue to make and release the COVID mRNA to stimulate the immune system?
3) How many cells are likely to become COVID mRNA protein producing factories, and how much mRNA will be produced by these "infected" cells?
4) Will the immune system see your cells with the COVID mRNA in them as being "infected" and destroy them, thus effectively stopping the vaccine from working?
5) What is the true "seroconversion" rate (the % of people who develop antibodies) after each vaccine dose for different age groups?
6) How long will the "immunity" from the COVID-19 vaccines last?
7) What is the true effectiveness rate of these mRNA vaccines in preventing COVID-19 infections?
8) What are the long-term potential adverse effects of these mRNA vaccines? (No-one knows as they are very new, and there have been NO long-term trials done).
We don't know the answer to ANY of these questions, which we really should know, especially for this new vaccine technology.
mRNA vaccines have been experimented with before, but none have been successful. Using mRNA vaccines in animal trials have suggested that the technique wasn't as safe as hoped (Chemical and Engineering News, 2018).
Contrary to many social media posts and memes, mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA! mRNA does not need to nor can enter the nucleus of the cell to change your DNA or your genes. mRNA is only used by cells outside of the nucleus... It is important to make sure that in any scientific debate or opposition to this new vaccine technology that both sides have their facts correct.
Despite the fact that mRNA vaccines cannot change your DNA, there are still MANY concerns for these new vaccines, and many questions still need to be asked and answered. MUCH more scientific testing must be done over a longer period, to truly show their safety and efficacy. And whenever there is a risk of side effects, especially in something new like this, and more so when the infection is not serious in 99.99% of the population (who quickly recover), there MUST be a choice for getting this vaccine or not.
British Society for Cell Biology (2020). Ribosome. Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://bscb.org/learning-resources/softcell-e-learning/ribosome/
Brody, L.C. (2020). Messenger RNA (mRNA). Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/messenger-rna
Chemical and Engineering News. (2018). Can mRNA disrupt the drug industry? Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://cen.acs.org/business/start-ups/mRNA-disrupt-drug-industry/96/i35
European Commission Research and Innovation. (2020). Five things you need to know about: mRNA vaccines. Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/five-things-you-need-know-about-mrna-vaccines.html
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020). Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs). Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization
Moderna. (2020). The Science and Fundamentals of mRNA Technology. Retrieved 8th December 2020 from https://www.modernatx.com/mrna-technology/science-and-fundamentals-mrna-technology