Hello health justice advocates!
We at CaHPSA hope you are all staying safe and having a good holiday season and new year! 2020 has been quite an eventful year to say the least, and I'm sure most of us are ready to look onwards to 2021. Unfortunately, with Covid-19 cases climbing by about 27,000 every day in California, this pandemic will carry over into the new year. It’s imperative that we all continue to maintain the typical COVID-19 precautions that we all have been practicing for the better part of 2020.
In this newsletter, we are going to dive into some details about how the new COVID-19 vaccine works. The United States has begun their phase 1 distribution of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine to those with high risk of exposure, such as health care workers. This vaccine being administered is a mRNA vaccine and is being distributed under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. This relatively new vaccine format works by delivering a dose of messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes for a specific viral protein or part of a specific viral protein (also known as the spike protein). Our cells take in this mRNA and transcribe it into the spike protein and send it to the surface of the cell. Our immune system then recognizes that the cell doesn’t belong in our body, due to the foreign protein and initiates an immune response which helps build future immunity. The benefit of this type of vaccine is that no weakened or inactivated COVID-19 virus is actually used, but rather a specific protein made by the virus that when isolated, is harmless. Another benefit is that because the materials used to make this vaccine are readily available in a laboratory, they can be mass produced much easier than older methods of producing vaccines. It wasn’t until recently that we discovered a way to work around the inherent instability and inefficiency of in vivo delivery techniques of mRNA vaccines. This technological advancement is what has allowed us to be able to administer this COVID-19 vaccine and manufacture it in such a short time frame.