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New mRNA discovery opens up path for more effective vaccines

Scientists Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman have received the nobel prize in medicine for their work in developing the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine. Their groundbreaking findings in the wake of the Covid pandemic were essential in slowing the spread of the virus and have set the stage for the future use of mRNA vaccinations in medicine.

Messenger RNA vaccines function a little differently from average vaccines. Instead of delivering a dead piece of a virus into the body, an mRNA vaccine will inject the instructions for making the viral protein. 

The body will then take these instructions and make the viral protein the same way it’d make any piece of DNA. After it’s made, the body will recognize it as foreign and promptly make antibodies protecting against the virus.

Karikó and Weissman’s “groundbreaking findings … fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system,” stated the Nobel prize panel. 

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The Bill Gates foundation–famous for their philanthropic donations towards vaccinations against diseases such as polio, malaria and HIV–has funded a $40 million effort to develop mRNA vaccines in Africa.

The $40 million investment is set to help African manufacturing companies develop affordable mRNA vaccinations, ensuring that every citizen will be able to get one. African countries were some of the last places where people received the Covid-19 vaccine, so this investment is a step towards immunization equity. 

“Whether it’s for local diseases in Africa like Rift Valley (fever) or for global diseases like TB, mRNA looks like a very promising approach,” Bill Gates told the Associated Press, “and so it allows us to bring in lots of African capabilities to work on these vaccines, and then this can be scaled up.”

Messenger RNA vaccines are proving to be a versatile new innovation in the field of medicine. Their unique function is one of the few silver linings of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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About the Contributor
Avery Adelini, Chief of Staff and Co-Social Media Manager
Avery Adelini is a junior at Hart High School. This is her first year in Hart journalism. Currently, she is the Chief of Staff and the Co-Social Media Manager. She is involved in Hart Show Choir, and she crochets and spends time with her family and friends in her free time.
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