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  • 4284 Characters

    Posted by David Foster on December 29th, 2020 (All posts by )

    A description of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and how it works.

    Source code for a vaccine?  Well, as Glenn Reynolds likes to say, this is the 21st century.

     

    23 Responses to “4284 Characters”

    1. Brian Says:

      “The mRNA vaccines quickly degrade in the human body”
      This has been my biggest question–how long does this foreign RNA persist at making this pseudo-virus protein?

      “and there is no possibility of the Ψ-modified RNA replicating with the Ψ still in there.”
      I get real apprehensive when scientists say there is NO possibility of something bad happening…

      I am still extremely leery of giving this mRNA vaccine to children for a disease that doesn’t impact them at all. I feel quite secure in saying I’d put good money on Pfizer being sued into oblivion a decade from now for some side effect or other…

    2. MCS Says:

      Won’t be any suits:
      https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/government-program-tapped-to-pay-for-covid-19-vaccine-injuries-rarely-sides-with-consumers/ar-BB1cdaH6

      The same program that covers flu and some other vaccines.

      Standard liability would probably cost closer to $10,000 a dose instead of $10. Us peons probably have a while to wait until we have to decide. All vaccines have side effects, don’t count on the media to give useful information. The very rare, very dramatic ones are already getting a lot of play and with 2-300,000,000 treated, there will be thousands.

      If we could magically treat everyone in the country tomorrow, the headlines would be full of the thousands of people that died within a day of receiving it. Of course, thousands of people die every day as a matter of course.

    3. Brian Says:

      I’m not too worried about immediate reactions, but rather long-term issues that “scientists” might think have “NO possibility” of happening.
      If in a couple of decades it’s associated with cancer, etc, the liability laws will be changed, you can be sure.

    4. Roy Says:

      Brian nails a conclusion:”I am still extremely leery of giving this mRNA vaccine to children for a disease that doesn’t impact them at all.”

      Essentially the public mandated responses to C19 ask the older folks (of which I am one) to sacrifice the younger folks for the *possibility* of some small increase in safety for the older folks.

      Societies that eat their young don’t do well.

    5. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Brian: “If in a couple of decades it’s associated with cancer, etc, the liability laws will be changed, you can be sure.”

      Brian, you happy optimist!

      What is the probability of the US still existing in recognizable form in a couple of decades? What is the probability in a couple of decades that all vaccine manufacturers will be Chinese-owned & China-domiciled — and immune from being sued by people in whatever form of society still stands in North America?

      I agree wholeheartedly that there is a significant chance of unexpected side effects from these rushed vaccines, possibly affecting the next generation. Remember Thalidomide! And Thalidomide was not a vaccine, just a medication.

    6. Mike K Says:

      Thanks, David. Articles like that one remind me how long it’s been since I graduated from medical school. When I was taking microbiology, we did not know what ribosomes and the Golgi Apparatus did. The correct number of human chromosomes had only recently been discovered.

      When I began teaching medical students about 1995, I quickly realized I had to bring myself up to date on molecular biology. This began as an attempt to read Lewin’s GenesVII textbook. I realized immediately that I had to go to Alberts’ “The Cell,” which was 1500 pages. I read an earlier edition and the latest might be longer. It took me a year to read it. Most kids in college taking a class that requires it, don’t read it all. I did. My niece got her BS in Molecular Biology around that time. She could have gone to medical school but her father, my brother-in-law, had had a stroke and she did not want to be away from him. She has been an OR nurse for 20 years and works on the liver transplant team at Rush Medical Center.

      Anyway, once I had read the Alberts book, I went back to Genetics but the Lewin book was way out of date. After all, it had been a year. The current version was Genes XII. The older book was not just out of date. Some of the information was wrong.

      I think the one current in 2000 was Genes XI but it had gone through 4 editions in little more than a year. The results of Craig Venter’s work, was revolutionizing molecular biology and genetics. I read his biography, and subsequently met him and attended some of his lectures.

      He is an amazing guy with an amazing life story and much of what we see now is a result of his work. He did not get a Nobel Prize for deciphering the human genome because his company was the one identifying Bill Clinton’s DNA on Monica Lewinski’s dress. Can’t prove that was the reason but the timing works.

    7. MCS Says:

      Brian,
      The only way to know what the possible side effects are 20 years down the road is to wait 20 years. That’s not going to do anybody much good now. There’s always a risk. If we don’t vaccinate the young now we could as easily be laying a trap for the future the way that the 1918 flu seemed to select the relatively young. We would probably be cultivating a reservoir that would let covid continue to mutate until it could break out again as immunity fades. We may do that anyway if there are virulent strains, immune to the vaccine already.

      Absolute certainty isn’t an option and never was.

    8. Brian Says:

      I’m sorry, but this is insane:
      https://mobile.twitter.com/CDCgov/status/1344025513640292352
      Pregnant? You may discuss #COVID19 vaccines with your doctor, but it’s not required before vaccination. While studies have not yet been done, experts believe mRNA vaccines like COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for #pregnant people. More: https://bit.ly/2WWh9hT.

      Just totally insane. (And I’m not even talking about the “pregnant people” abomination).

      As you know I was screaming in January to stop international travel, and in March to close schools, because of the precautionary principle (and now think international travel should be greatly restricted but schools all open), and right now that same philosophy says there is no way we should be giving kids these vaccines. Their risk is as close to zero as it gets, and the unknowns are far too great. They can be vaccinated when they turn 25 or older, if it’s deemed necessary.

      It’s not about “absolute certainty”, it’s about relative risk and eliminating catastrophic outcomes that we can’t quantify the likelihood of yet.

    9. Ken Willis Says:

      To Roy, I say the way all pandemics ever end is by reaching herd immunity, i.e., about 60% of the population must get the disease. If most will recover from it then it makes sense for the most vulnerable [older folks with other illnesses] to be protected and for the young and healthy [those for whom it will be a minor irritation from which they all quickly recover] to get it. That helps get rid of the disease quicker for everyone.

    10. Ken Willis Says:

      Roy is exactly correct on giving vaccine to children. Only vaccines explicitly intended for children [mumps, measles, chicken pox, for example] should ever be given to them.

    11. David Foster Says:

      One thing I’m wondering about, which isn’t really discussed at the link, is: What is the actual process for high-volume manufacturing?…which matters a lot in terms of how many additional plants can be put to work quickly…and also, what are the key ingredients (‘percursors’) for making the vaccine?

    12. MCS Says:

      The actual amount of material is probably millionths to thousandths of a gram per dose, Enough for the whole world could fit in a milk jug. Most materials like this are produced in bioreactors. Here’s an explanation:
      https://www.mtu.edu/unscripted/stories/2020/april/responding-to-the-covid19-crisis-the-making-of-vaccines.html

      The real bottlenecks are probably more in getting hundreds of millions of vials filled and sealed which has to be done in an aseptic facility. There are a lot of moving parts to making sure the vaccine in the vials is effective by the time it’s actually injected. None of them are amenable to the nine women to make a baby in a month scenario.

    13. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      Vaccines are part of herd immunity, not a contrast. Think smallpox. Think MMR vaccine. That’s how those diseases went away, not waiting for everyone to get sick. Almost everyone got sick in the mid 14th C, but the plague kept coming back for three centuries.

      We have to first remember what we already know.

    14. Brian Says:

      AVI: I’m no anti-vaxxer. My kids have gotten every recommended vaccine, even chicken pox, which I think is silly, and is driven by our broken society that has so few stay-at-home parents so kids getting sick is such a disruption. We’ve never gotten flu vaccines since I think they’re pointless for those in our situation.
      But mRNA is a totally new type of vaccine, and I don’t think it’s sensible to pretend otherwise.

      “We have to first remember what we already know”
      Yeah, and “don’t inject your children with an untested treatment for a disease that doesn’t impact them” seems like a great example.

    15. Mike K Says:

      AVI, I agree but the childhood vaccines I remember were for diseases of childhood. Some of them were harmless, like chicken pox but some were serious like measles.

      Polio was an odd one. It was devastating when it was paralytic but small children often had it without symptoms. What we have now is a respiratory virus that mostly spares the young, unlike Spanish flu that selected them. I wish I had asked my mother and father if they had had it and what it was like.

    16. Tatyana Says:

      Bottom line:
      After experience of this year the trust – in government, in science, in medicine – is lost.
      We do not believe anymore they act in best interest of the public.
      They say that, but their actions put a lie to their saying.

      No matter how many times now they will tell me the vaccine is safe, I will not believe them. I’d rather believe conspiratorials who suspects a plethora of ugly ulterior motives: from wiping out the elderly who cost too much now that SSA/Medicarid pyramid is falling apart, to nomenklatura coup to impose global police state.

    17. TommyJay Says:

      The actual amount of material is probably millionths to thousandths of a gram per dose, Enough for the whole world could fit in a milk jug. Most materials like this are produced in bioreactors. Here’s an explanation: — MCS

      According to the article by Mr. Hubert, it is 30 micrograms per dose. Ignoring the lipid and saline added and assuming water density(?), it would take about 50 gallons to vaccinate everyone on the planet. As these things go, MCS was not too far off. Oops, or maybe 100 gallons for two doses per person.

      The article on virus bioreactors is about mass producing and purifying viruses, which is how old vaccines were produced. The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines do not deliver virus particles. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine is delivered via virus particles. The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a genetically modified adenovirus that gives the subject a weak cold infection. I don’t recall whether the virus has been explicitly weakened in the lab before delivery which is another old vaccine technique.

      If I recall correctly, the AstraZeneca vax is supposed to be the cheapest and easiest to mass produce at something like $5 to $10 per dose

    18. Texan99 Says:

      I’m in the “absolute certainty isn’t an option” camp. I’d rather roll the dice on the vaccine than on the virus. I’ll take the vaccine the first chance I get, to protect myself and the even older people I come into contact with, not to mention the very occasional younger person who is unlucky enough to become dangerously ill, and on general principles to help get us to herd immunity ASAP. My husband ditto. We’re 64 and 66.

      I just loved the linked article, which I read a few days ago. Terrific subject, well done write-up. Much of the care expended on the design of the code was to get the mRNA working on protein synthesis as quickly as possible and to keep it up as long as possible, which is not all that long. With every trip through the ribosome, the mRNA sheds one of the end codons, and when they’re gone, that’s it. mRNA is fragile, temporary stuff. The mRNA codes only for a little fragment of protein that mimics the spoke on the outside of a COVID virus, not for the whole infectious package. Your body reacts to the protein by producing an immune response to them, which nearly always translates to an immune response to a real COVID virus, hence the effective rate in the 95% range.

    19. PenGun Says:

      Alright! We are back to mics! I may have done too much acid. ;)

      The Russians as well as having an effective vaccine, have now now developed an effective antiviral medicine. Its starting testing now. “FMBA head Veronika Skvortsova has claimed that the experimental antidote is more than 99% effective.” Having a silver bullet is always good.

    20. Brian Says:

      Texan: Did you even read what I said? I said we shouldn’t be giving these mRNA vaccines to kids. You should get one (though I’m still vehemently opposed to them being absolutely mandatory). Your grandkids, if you are lucky enough to have any, shouldn’t.

    21. MCS Says:

      TommyJay,
      The math is 30e-6×7.8e9x0.0002641729= 61.8 gallons per dose, so you’re closer than I was.

      I think you’re wrong about the production. The old way and the one that’s still used for the flu and other vaccines grows the virus on chick embryos in fertilized eggs. Millions and millions of eggs, all hand inoculated. That’s why production takes so long.

      The bio-reactor method uses some organism, bacteria or yeast, that is engineered to produce the required compound. A bio-reactor can be a large as thousands of gallons and the material is purified from the medium. This is what represents the departure from the status quo. This is, I believe, the first time this has been used to produce a human vaccine and the reason that they can use only a small portion of the virus, just the spike protein. It’s also the reason that they can go from just the sequence of the virus to a viable vaccine in less than a year. It might have taken years of work just to learn how to grow the virus in the conventional way if it was even possible at all.

      That this is even possible is because of various techniques that have only existed for a couple of years. Timing is everything, I’m sure this couldn’t have been done five years ago and possibly not last year.

    22. Anonymous Says:

      Brian, it wasn’t about what you said, Texan99 was just explaining how these mRNA vaccines function. I saw no conflict.

      Chickenpox vaccine is not silly, as those who have had Chickenpox plus shingles as an adult can attest. I haven’t had the second, but seems like something to avoid. I didn’t like Chickenpox either. One vaccine to prevent two diseasess seems like a viable option to me. 78% reduction in children’s incidence of shingles. A little more for Chickenpox. If you don’t get Chickenpox, no shingles so it ought to greatly reduce that issue.

      Death6

    23. Mike K Says:

      Chickenpox vaccine is not silly, as those who have had Chickenpox plus shingles as an adult can attest.

      I had chickenpox, which was almost universal when my kids were little. I had had it. I have taken the shingles vaccine but shingles is rare and chickenpox is extremely common. Also kids with atopic dermatitis are at risk from some vaccines.