This time "the clarification came from a close friend of mine, and a wonderful doctor.
1. An RNA vaccine has been in development since 2003. This is a fundamentally new approach to vaccination, most likely, all the next generations of vaccines will work on this principle. For the first time in the history of mankind, we are not injected with either living, weakened, dead or partial - no viral material at all.
2. How the vaccine works. We are injected with a small piece of RNA, which is responsible for one and only thing: the synthesis of the protein "spike", a kind of master key, with which the virus enters the cells of the body. RNA is delivered to the cytoplasm of the cell, and the cell begins to produce a "spike". Spike itself is completely harmless. But the cells of the immune system recognize a foreigner in it - and produce antibodies against it. When a real virus approaches a cell with the same "spike" at the ready, the cell, armed with antibodies, shows it a big fig: the border, that is, the cell membrane, is locked. To put it even simpler, we are introduced to a drawing according to which OUR cells begin to develop targets. By itself, the target is harmless, but serves as a signal for the immune system - "to identify and destroy." When the body encounters a real virus, it recognizes it and releases the already embattled antibodies destruction system on it.
3. At the same time, antibodies are unstable. After a real illness, they remain in the body from 2 to 4 months, if you are very lucky - up to six months. But the thing is that immunity is not limited to antibodies. T cells are part of our immune system. They "remember" the enemy. And even if the virus comes up when the antibodies have already disappeared, then t-immunity comes into play, and antibodies begin to be synthesized in the body again.
4. You may ask: for how long do these T-cells store memory?
This is a different term for different infectious agents. Fortunately for us, this period is long for SARS-CoV-2. That is why re-infection has been reliably recorded only in an insignificant number of people who have very serious immunity problems. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the total number of registered cases of the disease has exceeded 75 million people, and the number of deaths - 1.6 million people (WHO data as of December 22), and re-cases can be counted on one hand.
5. There is an even more pleasant thing: the amount of antibodies produced as a result of vaccination is much higher than after a real illness. And these antibodies are much more long-lived. At least in people vaccinated in the first stage, in March-April 2020, they have not disappeared until now.
6. But why, if the vaccine began to be developed back in 2003, it is ready only by 2020?
The researchers had three problems, and only solving all three made the breakthrough possible.
- RNA is an extremely unstable thing. It decomposes so quickly that it does not have time, without external protection, to reach the cell, into which it must penetrate. In nature, it is protected by the envelope of the virus, but we do not want to introduce any parts of the virus into ourselves? This problem was solved several years ago by the Shiba-Tel Hashomer researchers. RNA was dressed in a lipid shell, artificially created and harmless to the body.
- Still, the injected RNA, although strongly reduced, is still a part of the virus. What if ... What "suddenly" is not clear, but still: "what if?" Then RNA was created artificially. You see, all nucleic acids are 4 nucleotides. In DNA, they are somewhat different from RNA nucleotides, and there is a double helix, but the principle is the same. Imagine a long chain where only 4 letters are repeated in different combinations. The text is written in these four letters - instructions for the synthesis of a certain protein. The text that is contained in the RNA of the Pfizer vaccine contains instructions for the synthesis of a single protein - that very "spike" protein.
- The third problem, until very recently, frightened researchers almost to a pulp, but it could only be verified in real tests. You see, the immune response to the injected reagent can be of two types: TH1 or TH2.
TH1 is exactly what we need: "We know you, you are a stranger, get out!"
TH2 is a completely different story. In nature, this is a way of an immune response against extracellular enemies (not viruses, but, for example, some bacteria), but it was feared because an erroneous TH2 response can cause dangerous side effects. Cytokine storms, etc.
This most terrible fear has been dispelled, for our happiness. Out of several tens of thousands of subjects, ALL developed immunity according to the TH1 type. AND NO ONE - like TH2.6.
7. Am I afraid of long-term consequences?
No I'm not afraid. They have nowhere to come from. Everything that we introduce into the body will disappear within a maximum of two months. Having turned into substances that are natural for our body and in doses that do not exceed their usual amount. The likelihood of close reactions is, no doubt: this is either a reaction of the immune system to any introduction of something from the outside (just like a reaction to any other vaccination - pain at the injection site, redness, fever for several hours, dizziness, diarrhea), or an allergic reaction. At the same time, you need to keep in mind two things:
- The presence of immune reactions, in principle, is a correct and good thing, although in our case, subjectively, it is not very comfortable. That is why, the older the person, the less common this reaction occurs: the immune system in the old is weaker than in the young.
“And that's why the immune response to the second dose is usually stronger than to the first dose. Once again: it's okay, it's even good. But it says nothing about the quality of the immune response as a result of vaccination. Therefore, the vaccine is indicated for people with a weakened immune system, and even for HIV patients - it only strengthens this system. The oldest subject was 91 years old, and he developed immunity to covid successfully and without complications.
8. Even if you or someone from your loved ones suffers from allergies (and almost all of us have allergies to one degree or another), this is not an obstacle to vaccination. The danger exists only in those who have already had anaphylactic shock, or, simply, suffocation, swelling of the respiratory tract. In this case, prior to vaccination, a consultation with an allergist is necessary and, perhaps, it is worth being under the supervision of a doctor for several hours - a day. Then the danger of an allergic reaction is gone.
9. Isn't there a danger that RNA will nevertheless be introduced into our genome, and we, and our descendants (if they are, say frightened citizens) will grow horns or a tail?
Not. This virus does not have a biological mechanism through which RNA can penetrate into the nucleus - the custodian of genetic information. RNA lives only in the cytoplasm and its structures - ribosomes, the Golgi apparatus, etc. And if all of a sudden? Even in this case, RNA will not be able to integrate into the genome, the custodian of which is DNA - a double helix, in which records are "in another language."
10. "British mutation". Ay-ay-ay, we spent billions, and the virus confused, we drain the water and put out the light ... No. The essence of the RNA vaccine is that with any mutation of the virus, the vaccine can be changed with a few clicks of the computer keys. Even if, which is very unlikely, of all the countless variants, the mutation has affected the "spike", do not panic. Firstly, this does not mean that the immunity produced will not "overlap" these changes. Secondly, they will make small adjustments and an additional dose. And the fact that for more than a year that we are familiar with covid, we are talking only about the first serious mutation, and not a bunch of variations, as it happens with, say, the flu, inspires hope. Well, there will be a flu vaccine every year. So what? If only to protect.
And the last thing. Of course, it would be good to observe the behavior of the vaccine for another couple of years. But the current situation is not a spherical horse in a vacuum. And in the current situation, the already known danger from covid is an order of magnitude higher than the perceived danger from the vaccine.
Therefore, I chose the vaccine. For us to be able to return to normal life, 70-80 percent must have immunity. Either through illness (which is unrealistic - so far less than 10% of the population has acquired immunity this way), or through vaccination. Otherwise, masks, quarantines and other delights for the rest of your life.
Quite the last. You need to protect yourself for another 35-40 days.
3 weeks before the second injection and another 10-15 days until the immune system starts working at full capacity.