A genetic type of vaccine that has the potential to solve many of the challenges in vaccine development for infectious diseases. It is also potentially effective for cancer treatment.
Unlike conventional vaccines, mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines work by using only the RNA sequence of the virus, rather than the virus itself. The vaccines have a piece of the genetic material that codes for viral proteins or parts of them. Once inside the body’s cells, the mRNA instructs the body to start producing viral proteins, to which the immune system responds. This means that, when exposed to the real virus, the immune system recognizes the threat and knows how to deal with it.
A major advantage of mRNA vaccines is that RNA can be produced rapidly and cheaply in the laboratory, offering the potential to scale up production to meet the demands of a pandemic.
mRNA vaccines are also safer than the traditional type which are made by weakening the virus or bacteria which causes diseases. With mRNA vaccination, people are not exposed to the actual pathogen, therefore minimising the risk of negative health consequences.
As of November 2020, two COVID-19 vaccines have proved more than 90% effective in clinical trials. They are both mRNA vaccines.
Infectious Disease Prevention Vaccines