In this updated look at the Covid-19 vaccine we examine its rollout, one year ago. Now with the Omicron variant ravaging the world, getting the vaccine is more important than ever. Stubborn resistance continues...and Covid variations will continue to happen unless we get everyone vaxxed.
How did that COVID-19 vaccine happen so fast?
Years, even decades of research brought us to yesterday, the initial rollout of a vaccine for COVID-19, the most disastrous public health calamity in modern times.
In layman's terms, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are all about genetics, DNA, and cell biology. The vaccine utilizes our genetic processes and what they do...which is to create life in our bodies and in all living things. We lay people have known about genetics since high school, when we studied a little bit about Gregor Mendel and his experiments with peas. Mendel discovered the basic principles of heredity and laid the mathematical foundation of the science of genetics.
What James D. Watson and Francis Crick discovered by 1953, and which revolutionized biology and medicine, was how each of our 30 trillion cells (except for mature red blood cells) is able to pack inside its nucleus the 20,000 genes that serve as the instruction manual for us and for all living things.
DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the material from which the 46 chromosomes in each cell's nucleus are formed. DNA contains the codes for the body's approximately 20,000 genes, which govern all aspects of cell growth and inheritance. Watson and Crick discovered that DNA has a double helix structure--two intertwined strands resembling a spiraling ladder. A gene is a distinct section of that DNA and contains the codes for producing specific proteins involved in our body function. In a very short-handed description, genes send information to single-strand structures called messenger RNA (messenger ribonucleic acid). It is the messenger RNA that leaves the cell's nucleus and begins the process of protein building, the essential work of life.
What the scientists and doctors at Pfizer accomplished was to harness the messenger RNA of the Corona-19 virus, which is the active agent of the of the corona virus. The scientists made a synthetic copy of the virus's messenger RNA instead of using a section of living, or dead, virus as has been typically done in previous vaccines. Also, it has been reported that the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are less risky to the body and easier to make in mass doses...qualities much needed in an unprecedented pandemic.
As noted scientist and Nobel laureate Leon Cooper said, our investment in basic scientific research must be generous and ongoing. Advances that led to the creation of the personal computer, for example, relied on previous research on transistors, which relied on previous research in basic physics. Had the revolution in our understanding of genes and cellular biology not stood where it is, these vaccines, providing hope to a despairing world, would not have been possible.
FOREWORD: HOW A TINY VIRUS CHANGED THE WORLD…..1. LET'S GET BACK TO NORMAL, WHEREVER POSSIBLE….2. THIS IS NOT THE SEASONAL FLU-- IT'S MUCH MORE DANGEROUS….. 3. OUR LUNGS AND COVID-19: A CLOSER LOOK…..4. HOW DID THE COVID-19 VACCINES GET DEVELOPED SO FAST?.....5. THE VACCINES ARE SAFE: THE ROLE OF CLINICAL TRIALS…..6. IMMUNITY: A SMART SYSTEM AND ITS SECRETS…..7. A POWERFUL ACHIEVEMENT: DR. JONAS SALK CONQUERS POLIO…. 8. TAKE PART IN HISTORY...BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN….. 9. SCIENCE SAVES MONEY, SAVES LIVES…..10. THE AGE OF THE GENOME BODES WELL FOR HUMAN HEALTH…..11. FAQS ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES EPILOGUE: LIVING UNDER THE UNIQUE STRESS OF A PANDEMIC
"You might have read articles here and there about the Covid vaccines and the miracle of their development in less than a year. But here in book form, all the ingredients of this remarkable story are brought together in one place by author Dave Balog. Mr. Balog has a medical background, but he writes in clear, easy-to-understand prose that any reader will appreciate.
"Specifically, fundamental questions about the virus and the vaccines are answered in the book such as how did the vaccines get developed in record time, how was safety ensured -- particularly given the speed involved -- and the implications not only for the management of future pandemics, but also for overall public health in general.
"Mr. Balog's book is titled, "Get The Covid-19 Vaccine ASAP." Many people, but by no means everyone, know this. The nine chapters, however, explain why vaccination is so urgent in the face of a still evolving disease, the dimensions of which are detailed therein in no uncertain terms."
About the author
David Balog, a freelance science/medical writer, served as an editor at the Charles A. Dana Foundation from 1995-2006. There he worked for William Safire, language columnist for the New York Times. David created, wrote, and edited the Dana Sourcebook of Brain Science through four editions. More than 50,000 copies were distributed to elementary schools, middle schools, colleges and to professionals and the general public. He worked with leading brain scientists and doctors, including Nobel laureates. David was also a contributing editor of the Dana Sourcebook of Immunology. and has created the Healing the Brain series of books and videos. Please visit www.HealingTheBrainBooks.Com to learn more. David is a graduate of Hamilton College, where he received a BA in History.