HudsonAlpha scientist explains coronavirus vaccine's genetic composition

The vaccines being made are unlike vaccines used to prevent other viruses.

Posted: Dec 15, 2020 7:48 PM

WAAY 31 learned more about the coronavirus vaccine's genetic composition and how it's made different than those in the past.

Neil Lamb, a faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is helping educate people about the virus, vaccine and breaking down the science behind them.

He said mRNA is vaccine technology that's never been used before, but scientists have studied it for about 10 years. In the last year or two, the technology to make lots of mRNA, he explained, have become more affordable and accessible.

"It's a temporary piece of instruction. It's copied from DNA. It's kind of short term. It hangs around for a little while and disappears. It's broken down, so the concept behind an mRNA vaccine is inject the cell with a little bit of message, a mRNA recipe, for how to make a piece of the spike protein and so the cell's machinery reads this mRNA message, makes the spike protein, put that on the outside of the muscle cells and that unusual protein activates the immune system to build up an immune response to that spike protein, so you're priming your immune system to recognize the spike protein and respond, so that if later on, after you've been vaccinated, if you've been infected, the spike protein that sits on the outside of the virus said, 'oh, I've seen that protein. Here's what I need to do to respond to it,'" he said.

Lamb also said it's important for everyone to know this vaccine does not alter your DNA. He said it's completely separate from your DNA.

He says just like any vaccination, there can be some side effects. Some common possible side effects on the arm where you get the shot could include pain and swelling. You might also experience fever, chills and headaches.

"That generally lasts 12-24 hours. It's unpleasant, it's uncomfortable, it feels like you might get a cold, like you're coming down with something, but that tells you that your immune system is actually doing its job. Generally, by the next day, people feel much better," he said.

Lamb explained a more serious side effect that's being investigated is Bell's Palsy, which would cause facial paralysis on typically one side of your face. The FDA recommends watching for it after receiving the vaccine, but said there are four reported cases of Bell's Palsy among Moderna's 30,000 trial recipients.

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 45°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 53°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 42°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 42°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 37°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 777935

Reported Deaths: 11459
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby874431502
Davidson81719870
Knox46146582
Hamilton40486462
Rutherford38479384
Williamson25338203
Sumner21415315
Montgomery17440213
Out of TN1700794
Wilson16479210
Unassigned15705126
Sullivan14396273
Blount14106182
Bradley12957140
Washington12792234
Maury12238163
Sevier12065164
Putnam10611169
Madison10109229
Robertson8980121
Hamblen8048164
Anderson8027158
Greene7301145
Tipton6953103
Coffee6357115
Dickson6239106
Gibson6196141
Cumberland6116121
Carter5983153
McMinn593992
Roane591796
Bedford5802120
Loudon570866
Jefferson5677119
Lawrence557183
Monroe534690
Warren532175
Hawkins525294
Dyer5241101
Franklin474485
Fayette467271
Obion436795
Rhea415273
Lincoln414462
Cocke400193
Cheatham393044
Marshall391256
Campbell381059
Weakley379059
Giles374496
Henderson361973
Carroll348981
White338766
Hardeman338464
Macon337073
Hardin331363
Lauderdale309242
Henry300975
Marion294544
Scott287744
Wayne287330
Overton285157
Claiborne281468
McNairy268253
DeKalb265949
Hickman265641
Haywood264860
Smith256836
Grainger243846
Trousdale239222
Morgan230138
Fentress229444
Johnson216638
Chester201948
Bledsoe200410
Crockett197347
Unicoi181147
Polk177022
Cannon176130
Union172533
Grundy169230
Lake167826
Sequatchie156427
Humphreys154221
Decatur153937
Benton151039
Lewis147225
Meigs126721
Jackson125334
Stewart123724
Clay107130
Perry103427
Houston103232
Moore94516
Van Buren79620
Pickett74623
Hancock49612

Community Events