What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work in the body to protect you from COVID-19? | Lithgow Mercury


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Australia will soon be able to manufacture its own mRNA vaccines from a purpose-built facility in Melbourne. Once operational by 2024, it will be the southern hemisphere’s first mRNA manufacturing facility and will be built in collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Moderna. In Thursday’s announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the facility represented a “shot in the arm” for Australia’s virus defences. “Before the pandemic, mRNA was considered almost science fiction, now it’s scientific fact,” Morrison said. Currently, in Australia’s fight against COVID-19, there are two types of vaccines available. Novavax and AstraZeneca are protein-based vaccines, while Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA. READ MORE: To understand how the mRNA vaccine works differently from protein-based vaccines, ACM contacted experts at the University of NSW in Sydney. Cells inside the human body are constantly making proteins to stay healthy. mRNA, or “messenger RNA”, exists naturally inside cells. It transmits a set of instructions to the DNA in order to help it replicate the necessary proteins. When delivered in a vaccine, mRNA is enclosed in a fatty envelope that is taken up by human cells. Once inside cells, the mRNA releases the protein code that replicates a virus’s spike protein. Once the body recognizes the virus, it uses its natural defenses to fight the virus. Through this process, the body learns to identify the virus and is equipped to fight it off if the virus invades again. Conversely, protein vaccines like the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are called “carrier vaccines”. In a protein vaccine, the virus has been replicated as a less harmful adenovirus – or shell – which carries the genetic code on spike proteins in cells in the body. Once inside the cells, the spike protein is produced and the body trains its immune system to fight it, which creates antibodies. The cells will then carry a memory of the virus which will help protect the body against possible future infections.




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