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The Pfizer/BioNTech Is An MRNA Vaccine. What Does That Mean?

The types of vaccines that currently exist rely on the same basic principle: to stimulate our immune system to responding to a real viral threat by mimicking a natural infection without actually casing you to be sick.

There are four main types of vaccines:

– inactivated virus (like for polio or rabies or influenza);
– protein based (e.g. for hepatitis B or whooping cough);
– viral vector (which includes the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 and is a similar technology to that for smallpox and Ebola);
– and the mRNA type. mRNA stands for ‘messenger RiboNucleic Acid’. The mRNA type of vaccine transports the genetic sequence for the spike protein (from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) into our own cells. Our cells then produce the spike proteins which induce an immune response. This does not cause COVID-19 but means that if the body is exposed to the virus, the immune system would recognise and attack the virus.

The mRNA type of vaccine has so far been produced for COVID-19 disease by two different companies Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

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