COVID-19 Vaccine Explanation by Biology Teacher Matthew Ewald

“The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, that are currently being given for COVID, work by informing our immune system about one specific part of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, so that our bodies can easily recognize the virus and fight infection. Within the vaccine, you have a small fragment of genetic material (mRNA), that codes for a specific part of the Coronavirus. This specific part is the “spike protein” that is used by the virus when it first attaches to our cells. Viruses work by using proteins to attach to the surface of our cells and then inserting genetic material into our cells. This viral genetic material is then used by our infected cells to make more virus. More infected cells equals more virus, and that is what the virus wants.

So, this mRNA fragment is carried in the vaccine by a collection of lipid nanoparticles. Ultimately, the mRNA is being carried through the body in a ball of fat. This is important because the lipid nanoparticles allow the vaccine to move within the body, and also allows the vaccine to deliver the mRNA fragment to your cells. Without the lipid nanoparticles, the mRNA fragment in the vaccine would almost instantly be broken down by the body.

Once the mRNA fragment in the vaccine enters your cells, your cells start manufacturing the spike protein. As they make this spike protein, they attach it to another protein that ends up on the cell membrane, pointing out of the cell. This is where your immune system can recognize the spike protein, and create memories for future infections. It is these memories, within your immune system, that will allow you to create antibodies and other immune responses should you become infected with COVID later. The original mRNA fragment from the vaccine is destroyed by the cell, and you now have immunity to COVID.”