DMPQ-What are m-RNA vaccines? Explain the challenges associated with them.

. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

As amazing as mRNA vaccines might be, they do have one drawback. Because mRNA is an unstable molecule, it has a significant cold-chain storage requirement. This might make it a challenge to deliver these vaccines to the developing world where freezers might not be as common, but the infectious disease burden can be great. Initially, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needed to be held in ultracold freezers, set to -80 °C. But recently the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be held at standard refrigerator temperature for up to one month (~4 °C). This expands the potential footprint for mRNA vaccine availability. Vaccine efforts in global health have adapted for cold-chain storage in the past, but it undoubtedly adds a challenge when trying to vaccinate remote populations.

In summary, the mRNA vaccine platform has a lot of promise and potential. Assuming they continue to prove extraordinarily effective and safe as million more people are vaccinated, the mRNA vaccines might chart our path to a safer, healthier future.

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