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Vaccines: How do they work

Dr Yasir Wani —

Still seeing a lot of confusion going around about the mechanism of vaccines in use.

I will attempt to explain it as simply as possible.

Let’s see the structure of the virus first:


Spike Protein = Nutty spikes

Lipid Membrane = Outer Chocolate Layer

Nucleocapsid = Wafery Layer

RNA = Innermost Chocolate

That’s putting it very simply for the purpose of understanding.

Let’s see how the virus causes infection

The virus enters through our respiratory tract

It needs to enter a cell to replicate

For that, it uses the spike protein (nutty spikes)

Spike protein allows the virus to enter the cell and cause infection

The aim of vaccines is to try and prevent infection in your body

Hence, most of the vaccines are targeting the Spike Protein (nutty spikes)

Scientists sequenced the RNA of the virus and identified the genes making the Spike Protein

Let’s see some vaccines now!

COVAXIN

They killed the SARS-CoV-2 virus, took away its ability to cause infection.

 Body can still identify it and mount an immune response against it.

COVAXIN has been developed by Bharat Biotech.

It is the only vaccine in use right now that uses an inactivated virus.

All the other vaccines we’ll see below – target only the Spike Protein (nutty spikes.

COVISHIELD

The genes making the Spike protein are mixed into an adenovirus that can’t cause infection in humans. It makes the Spike Protein in our body.

The vaccine SPUTNIK V is similar to COVISHIELD

COVISHIELD uses a Chimpanzee Adenovirus

SPUTNIK V uses a Human Adenovirus 

The mechanism is the same – adenovirus is used as a vehicle to send the spike protein gene to our body

mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna

The genes making Spike Protein are encoded into an mRNA. mRNA = messenger RNA -> makes proteins in our body. It makes the Spike Protein in our body.

So, as you can see, none of the vaccines have a complete, living virus that can cause infection.

Covaxin has the killed virus – unable to cause infection.

All others have barely one component of the virus – the Spike Protein.

Remember!

  • VACCINES CAN’T CAUSE INFECTION
  • VACCINES DON’T CAUSE INFERTILITY
  • VACCINES ARE  SAFE AND EFFICACIOUS
  • GET VACCINATED FOR COVID
  • SAVE YOURSELVES AND YOUR FAMILIES
(The author is a Consultant Pediatrician at District Hospital Pulwama)