17 questions and answers about the Biontech vaccine developed with mRNA technology. What is the Biontech vaccine and what is it not? What are the side effects of the Biontech vaccine?
After the vaccination gained momentum, the citizens who got their vaccination appointments continue to research about the Covid vaccine Biontech, developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech.
QUESTION 1: HOW IT AFFECTS IMMUNITY
The “raw material” of the BIONTECH vaccine is an artificial mRNA molecule. mRNA is a naturally produced substance that is naturally present in our cells and its functions are extremely important. “Messenger RNA” (mRNA) or “messenger Ribo Nucleic Acid” is an essential structure for our cells to produce vital proteins. We can also think of this structure as a “schema”. Again, messenger RNA (mRNA) is already present in every cell. Its job is to act as a mediator between the DNA in our chromosomes and the intracellular structures (ribosomes) that produce the proteins we need.
QUESTION 2: WHAT DOES SYNTHETIC MRNA DO?
mRNAs are responsible for transmitting the instructions (messages) we need to produce proteins to the cells’ protein production centers, namely ribosomes. What about the mRNA in the vaccine? What is he doing? The password is in the mRNA. The BioNTech mRNA vaccine developed to protect against COVID-19 uses the process I described above in principle. All of the mRNA vaccines (BioNTech de Moderna) carry the messages needed for the production of the coronavirus’ Spike protein. Turkish scientists who developed BioNTech, Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci achieved this success by creating a “synthetic mRNA” for the mRNA vaccine. They encoded the Spike protein in the new coronavirus into this synthetic mRNA sequence they produced. They also placed this synthetic mRNA inside “oil-coated nanoparticles” so that “it could easily pass through the cell wall and easily enter the cell.” Miraculous developments begin at this point.
QUESTION 3: DOES mRNA MANUFACTURE SPIKE PROTEIN IN THE CELL?
Immediately after the synthetic mRNA enters our cells after inoculation, it quickly comes into contact with the “ribosomes” that serve as the “protein production centers” of each cell, “Produce spike protein!” gives the message. These centers soon begin to produce the spike protein of the new coronavirus in the cell. In short, mRNA vaccines do not contain natural viruses or virus particles, the synthetic mRNA in vaccines can never be included in the “cell nucleus” and “our genetic material (human genome) hidden in the nucleus” after vaccination. It can only show its effect in ribosomes, to which it gives the command to “produce Spike protein”. That miraculous process begins right after this point.
QUESTION 4: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN S PROTEIN IS PRODUCED?
Following our vaccination, Spike proteins produced by our own cells are perceived as “foreign proteins” by our immune system, and the production of antibodies and T cells that the virus should form against Spike protein is activated. In summary, the Spike protein of the new coronavirus is produced in our cells, thanks to the message given by the synthetic mRNA particle applied with the external vaccine, and our immune system, which detects the presence of this new and foreign protein, quickly activates the cellular and antibody-responsive structural immune response.
QUESTION 5: CAN’T SYNTHETIC MRNA DAMAGE US?
It is never possible for the synthetic mRNA used in the BIONTECH vaccine to combine with our DNA to change our genetic code and affect it, disrupt its structure, or cause a change. Since synthetic mRNA already has a fragile structure, it can stay in our cells for a maximum of 2-3 days, after which it is quickly destroyed.
QUESTION 6: HOW IT IS APPLIED
BIONTECH vaccine is administered into the muscle in the upper arm. In principle, it is repeated in 2 doses. The time between the two applications is usually between 4 and 6 weeks. However, it is thought that the duration can be increased to 8 or even 12 weeks.
QUESTION 7: WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY RATE?
According to current information, the BioNTech vaccine has a high efficacy rate of “95 percent”. Do not get it wrong, this information does not mean that “in 5 out of every 100 people who get the vaccine, the vaccine may be ineffective”. This information means that those who are vaccinated are 95 percent less likely to get COVID-19 infection than those who are not vaccinated. It is stated that the effectiveness of the BioNTech vaccine in preventing the “need for hospitalization”, that is, “severe COVID-19 infection”, is around “85 percent”.
QUESTION 8: WHAT IS THE PROTECTION PERIOD?
Unfortunately, it is not yet known how long the BIONTECH vaccine can protect us like other vaccines. Because the vaccines we will use to protect against COVID-19 are still very new. But it is estimated that the probable period will not be shorter than 6 months. There are those who argue that the protective period in COVID-19 may reach 1 or even 1.5 years.
QUESTION 9: CAN EVERYONE GET THIS VACCINE
It has been confirmed that the BIONTECH vaccine can be administered to anyone aged 16 years or older. However, it is essential to give priority to the vaccination of those who are at risk or in the risk group during the vaccination process.
QUESTION 10: WHO CANNOT BE BIONTECH?
BioNTech is not yet applied to those aged 15 and under. But it seems that this vaccine can be given to lower age groups as well. Scientific data is awaited confirmation. On the other hand, vaccination should be postponed in those who still have an acute febrile illness of 38 degrees and above. In addition, those who have had severe allergic reactions before should inform the doctor/center who will administer this vaccine before getting vaccinated. The second dose of the vaccine is not given to those who have severe allergic reactions immediately after the first vaccination. BioNTech vaccine is administered to those who have previously had COVID-19, at the earliest 6 months after recovery. Only a single dose application is sufficient for these people.
QUESTION 11: WHAT ARE THE MEASURES TO BE TAKEN BEFORE AND AFTER VACCINATION?
As with other vaccines, details such as a good sleep, a regular diet, a pleasant peace of mind, and staying away from alcohol a few days before and after the BioNTech vaccine can increase the effectiveness of this vaccine. However, it is not necessary to rest after the vaccination, you can continue your work. If some problems such as pain or fever occur, you can consult your doctor and use any pain reliever or antipyretic drug (paracetamol is preferred).
QUESTION 12: WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE VACCINE
As with every vaccine, some “familiar reactions” may occur after the BioNTech vaccine, either in the place where the vaccine was given or in the body in general. Let’s know that these reactions take 2-3 days at the most. The most common vaccine reactions are:
- Pain at the injection site (80 percent)
- A general state of fatigue (60 percent)
- Headache (50 percent)
- General muscle aches (30 percent)
- Tremor (30 percent)
- Pain in the joints (20 percent)
- Swelling and redness at the injection site (10 percent)
- Increase in body temperature (10 percent)
- Insomnia, arm and leg pain, itching, swelling in lymph nodes (1-5 percent)
QUESTION 13: IS IT TRUE THAT HE CAN CAUSE FACIAL PALACE?
It was seen that the BIONTECH vaccine caused facial paralysis in only 4 cases in total during the research phase and after the application. A few weeks later, there was a full recovery. In short, the issue of facial paralysis seems to be just an urban legend for now.
QUESTION 14: CAN THERE BE SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTIONS?
As with every vaccine, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) that can occur suddenly have been observed in a very few cases after the BioNTech vaccine. However, after certain medical treatments, full recovery was achieved in these. However, for the BioNTech vaccine, it is not possible in principle to “guarantee that no severe allergic reaction will occur”.
QUESTION 15: CAN BIONTECH MAKE INfertility?
The myth that the BIONTECH vaccine can cause infertility stems from a misconception. The reason for this misconception, or rather the urban legend, is that “a short amino acid sequence that makes up the Spike protein of the new coronavirus is structurally similar to the protein called ‘syncytin’ in the placenta, which is vital for the development of the fetus in the mother’s womb.” However, experts think this similarity is not enough to trigger a dangerous immune response that can lead to infertility.
QUESTION 16: CAN PREGNANT AND LASTING WOMEN ALSO BE VACCINE
As with every vaccine, the BioNTech vaccine was not used in pregnant women and women who were breastfeeding in the first trials. However, later experience and data showed that the risks posed by the BioNTech vaccine to mothers and babies are much lower than the risks posed by COVID-19 infection. Therefore, except for special cases, the vaccine can be used after the first 3 months of pregnancy and in mothers who are breastfeeding their child.
QUESTION 17: CAN THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED COVID-19 ALSO HAVE THIS VACCINE
It is recommended that people who have had a previous COVID-19 infection and recovered, wait an average of 6 months to get the BioNTech vaccine. It is accepted that a single dose of BioNTech vaccine to be administered after this period will provide sufficient immunity to these people.