General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Could someone please give a simple overview of how mRNA vaccines work?

Asked by LostInParadise (29298points) November 28th, 2020

I have heard explanations on the radio and done Web searches, and it still does not make sense. I get that mRNA carries instructions from DNA to make proteins. Which DNA does the virus use, its own or that of the host? If mRNA is only a messenger, doesn’t that mean that it is the DNA that is in charge? Is the mRNA doctored somehow to keep the virus from creating all the proteins needed to reproduce?

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3 Answers

janbb's avatar

Does this help from the CDC or did you want a deeper explanation? It says that the MRNA dos not enter the cell’s DNA at all:

LostInParadise's avatar

Thanks, that seems to make sense. The mRNA is one part of the virus. I am guessing that it contains instructions that ordinarily come from the virus DNA. It enters the cell wall, but not the nucleus. The cell follows the mRNA instructions to build a protein that is found on the surface of the virus but is not harmful on its own. The body’s immune system is then triggered to create antibodies to get rid of the protein, and the mRNA is disposed of.

janbb's avatar

Yes, that’s how I read it. My foot doctor that’ what makes it seem really safe to him to take.

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