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Whats Actually in the Pfizer and Moderna Coronavirus Vaccines?

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Biology   |   Health   |   Science  
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Curious what's inside the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines? Let's go down the ingredient list one by one and find out why theyre all in there.
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The key, active ingredient in both Modernas and Pfizers vaccine is messenger RNA, what we call mRNA. mRNA is a molecule containing the genetic code that tells your cells how to make ONE kind of protein. Thats the spike protein on the surface of the virus.

Your cells read those instructions and then make that spike proteinwhich cant infect you on its own and your immune system learns how to recognize it. You start to build an army of antibodies, those are immune proteins that bind to the REAL virus and clear it away if you get infected. Then, after a while, your cells get rid of that mRNA, that genetic material, but your body remembers how to defend itself.

Now, we cant just inject straight mRNA into someones body, because your body is actually really good at chewing up and getting rid of foreign genetic material thats not supposed to be there. Thats where the other vaccine ingredients come in. Both Pfizer and Moderna contain a variety of lipids. The word lipid is basically just the scientific name for a fat or fat-like molecule. You can even see the word cholesterol in the lipid list for both vaccines, same as the kind thats in your body naturally. All of these lipids together form tiny little protective bubbles around the mRNA. One of the lipids sticks to the mRNA, others form the structure of the bubble and help it cross your cell membrane into your cells where it can be used, and other lipids keep the bubbles from clumping together. In both of these vaccines, this whole complex is called a lipid nanoparticle, or LNP.

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Read More:

Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredient List: What to Know, According to Experts
"'Lipids are "unique" to this type of vaccine,' Jamie Alan, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Health. But, she says, 'the rest of the ingredients are very common in vaccines.'"

Why are mRNA vaccines so exciting?
"Within minutes, scientists 10,000 miles away began working on the design of an mRNA vaccine. Within weeks, they had made enough vaccine to test it in animals, and then in people. Just 11 months after the discovery of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, regulators in the United Kingdom and the US confirmed that an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 is effective and safely tolerated, paving the path to widespread immunization."

Why Does Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Need To Be Kept Colder Than Antarctica?
"One of the front-runners in the vaccine race the one made by Pfizer needs to be kept extremely cold: minus 70 degrees Celsius, which is colder than winter in Antarctica."


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