Watch Dr. Cooper Discuss on Our IG Live via our YouTube channel:
Listen & Subscribe to our Podcast on Anchor:
Welcome to another episode of The Bryn Cooper Show! Today we’re doing a topic that I think is interesting: the COVID-19 vaccination. My first master’s is in microbiology, so I worked with bacteria and fungus and know how to grow them and how to do PCR in different lab techniques. My second masters was in genetics and I actually took my MRNA from patient’s saliva and checked for different genes. And so there I have a background where I feel like I can read the literature and understand it, even though I’m not on the front lines of this particular topic. So we are going to be talking about the vaccine for COVID that’s coming out and has been approved by the FDA.
It’s getting distributed to frontline health workers. This has been a season where our death rate has been higher in Texas, about six times higher than what we normally see with the flu. So this coronavirus has been more deadly than an average year with the flu. But this vaccine is on the horizon. So we’ve come together as a world and we’ve put together a vaccine in a very short amount of time. So how those vaccines are going to get distributed is all going to be up to the states. And there’s even one state, Oregon, that’s having their general dentists actually administer the cold vaccine. So when people come in and get their normal teeth cleaning, then you can also get the vaccine. And that’s a pretty cool way to distribute it.
So let’s talk a little bit about what the vaccine is. Just some quick facts. We don’t want to get too far into the details, but as people have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. (Like I said, I have a background that’s near to this, but I was not one of the researchers putting together the vaccine. And I definitely have been a wet fingered clinician for the last five to seven years, not in a research lab.)
The MRNA vaccine is the first one of its kind, which is really cool. That means we have a new vaccination method that’s been developed. It’s been in the cancer field lately. So we’re taking that and we are using the MRNA which is then taken by the person who’s vaccinated, their body and a protein is made. Why does it matter if your body makes a protein? Well, that protein is the spike protein that you see on the virus. And that protein is what allows the virus to attach to your body and then replicate inside your body and create a high enough viral load that you get the fever and you get all of the symptoms. And so if you can prevent the virus from attaching to the body because you have antibodies that prevent the attachment, then you can prevent the virus from attaching to you.
So that is the theory behind this vaccine. Normally, a vaccine is made from either very small doses of a virus, or it’s made from having a little bit of an inactivated virus. So it could be either of those two things. And those are our traditional vaccination methods. When we started looking at trying to do this with the Coronavirus, it would not actually work. And so that’s why we’ve then had to develop this new kind.
A little bit of the difference between the immune response from a regular vaccine (from one of the two prior types of vaccine and the MRNA vaccine), is that the MRNA vaccine is giving not only an antibody response, but also an innate immune response. So with other vaccinations, you usually have the vaccine and you get antibodies. But then when your body is actually exposed to the virus, then your body develops kind of an innate response and is better able to mount this because it has the antibodies already available. But supposedly with this MRNA vaccine, you’re going to get both. What does that mean? Is that all a good thing? Mostly, yes, from what we know in the literature. At the same time, people may have more sore muscles where they get the injection. They may have an overreaction of the immune response. So we’re waiting to see if having this dual immunity really is a wonderful thing, or if there are some downsides to it. Overall, as a scientific community, I think we’re excited about having both of those within one vaccine rather than having to have an adjuvant.
There is still a lot that we need to know about the response — as researchers, as medical professionals — these studies have been done in the last three to six months. And so the short term results look really, really good with not a lot of downside. As far as long term, we still need to see if there is no downside. And the only way we can do that is to start dispensing it to people. And that’s the way it is with a lot of things, like medical devices, other vaccines, medications. This is something I think is really cool. As I mentioned before, the virus, the MRNA technology with a vaccine, it was getting a lot of research in the cancer realm. Which is not a realm that I know a ton about. But I have been saying for several weeks now, if it’s an MRNA and a vaccine, this is ready and primed to be a vaccine for HIV, which we’ve been waiting for for years. And I read in the research that not only are they looking at doing a herpes and a flu MRNA vaccine, but they’re already starting to develop the HIV MRNA vaccine, which could be really, really cool for society.
We’ve had some people talk about some rumors that go along with a vaccine. We’ve already talked about some facts. The MRNA vaccines are completely new. We’ve never had another one put out to the public before. Before we had vaccines that were either a very, very small dose of the actual virus that we would inject into people or it was an inactivated version of the virus. So the scientists would take the virus, inactivate a part of it, and then inject that into your body. And with both of those, your body would develop the antibodies, and then when the virus itself was exposed to your body, you would then recruit an innate immune response to fight the virus. And so you would not have the symptoms that you would get if you had not been vaccinated. With the MRNA, it’s just a little piece of the virus that is actually generated by your own body. So the MRNA is injected into you and your own body then makes the viral protein that’s on the outside of the protein. That protein is what then, if the virus enters you, the virus would try to attach to you by having that protein attached to you. Because your body has already had these proteins inside of it, there’s an antibody response to those proteins, and it does not allow the virus to attach to you in the same manner so that you don’t get as high of a viral load, you don’t have the same symptoms, you don’t have a severe response.
Vaccine trials: there are rumors about this. That there’s a doctor that was vaccinated in the UK, I believe, that died — she is not dead. And we have no known deaths in any of the studies from the vaccination protocol. So at this point, it appears that at least in the short term, the virus itself is way more deadly than getting the vaccine.
Ok, let’s talk about a couple of other rumors. People have been talking about how fast the virus has had a vaccine and whether or not that’s a good thing that the virus has a vaccine so quickly. And I think this really speaks to the cooperative effort we’ve had around the world. The scientists have really shared information and worked together. The other thing you have to remember is that a lot of vaccines have funding and investment issues. So they get a little bit of funding, they do a little bit research, then they get a little bit more investment and they do a little bit more research. And so depending on how the money fluctuates, depends on how fast the research can go. And this particular case, the world, threw money at the coronavirus so that all the scientists could work around the clock to get something put together. So you didn’t have the funding blockades that you normally deal with in research, you didn’t have to do grant applications and all of those things like they used to with other types of vaccines that we’ve been developing. And so we’ve actually been able to run through the same types of clinical trials and the same steps in a very short amount of time.
I think that as far as the studies go, before being released on the market, it’s not like we were running 10 and 20 year studies on vaccines before releasing them with any other type of virus. So I think we’re good to go. And the panel has reviewed it and here we go. This brings up another thing I’ve read about: the FDA panel. It was not a unanimous vote for it to pass. There were 17 people that voted for it. There were four people that voted against it, and one abstained. So it was not just a yes. I think it was discussed in depth. I think there are some people who have some concerns about it in the medical community. And even these these twenty four people were the top vaccine researchers in the country looking at this stuff and they couldn’t come to an absolute consensus. So even though I don’t think some of these rumors are true, and we really need to talk about the facts, I think there are some things that we can watch out for and we’ll have to watch long term. But I don’t think it’s any different than any other vaccine for any other virus.
Does the vaccine change your DNA? And the answer is absolutely not, especially in the trial period of three to six months. There is no change to the DNA in the short term. I’m not someone who put it together and I’m not a top vaccine researcher, but with someone who has a microbiology background, I’m interested to see long term. I mean, the HIV virus is an RNA virus. So it’s a virus that has RNA and then it actually inserts a segment of genetics into your DNA and then proliferates. That’s why the HIV virus is so hard to combat, because it becomes a part of that person’s DNA. So that means there is the possibility that RNA, through reverse transcriptase and other different mechanisms, can become a part of your DNA.
The other question is: even if it becomes a part of our DNA, is it a bad thing that it becomes a part of our DNA? It could actually cause a good mutation. It could cause no effect at all. There’s a bunch of DNA in our system that doesn’t get coded and we don’t even know what it does. So even if there is some sort of modification to the DNA, there’s no guarantee that it’s a bad thing.
People are wondering how many different shots they’re going to need to get vaccinated. And right now the protocol is showing two. So the first initial vaccination or shot and then a second one — and that is so that your body actually mounts a response that is that’s viable, that’s high enough. The first time you’re just creating some memory, but the second time actually creates the immune response.
There’s a rumor that the vaccines are actually injecting COVID-19 into your body. Well, if we were talking about a smallpox vaccine, then we would be talking about that. But we’re not. We are talking about just one small piece of RNA that makes the protein. It’s not the actual whole virus. At the same time, there might be some symptoms that you get because of the little virus protein that’s inside you.
Here are two other rumors that I saw online that I thought were funny: One is Bill Gates is micro chipping everybody through the vaccination. Now, even though his charity has come up with some different technology, Bill Gates’ technology has not been put into the COVID-19 vaccine. He has repeatedly denied it. And I think one thing, if we are moving this fast, we have all this funding is worldwide, I don’t think the rest of the world is going to let Bill Gates put an American chip in everybody. So I think we’re safe from that.
The other one is the thalidomide scandal that happened in the 70s and 80s, which really has caused a distrust of some of the approvals. It’s a drug that was made to help pregnant women with morning sickness and was given to a lot of pregnant women and targeted for pregnant women. But then the side effect was birth defects. And so because the birth defects were a side effect of this drug that was marketed to the population that was pregnant, even though it had gone through in the 60s and 70s, what was then considered approval. Now, the approval process is a lot more stringent and the COVID vaccine has had to go through a lot more trials than thalidomide did 40 or 50 years ago. So we vetted the COVID-19 vaccine much more than we did the thalidomide back in the 60s and 70s. And it’s not really comparing apples to apples to compare the thalidomide scandal to the COVID-19 vaccine.
How long do you think it will take for everyone to get the vaccine? I think it depends on how fast we can produce the vaccine. And I don’t know that everyone’s a candidate. So there could be some sort of compounding factor or something that is a side effect, and we end up finding that out. Because right now it’s approved for adults who are healthy. It’s not approved for minors, so we’re not going to be giving it to the kids any time soon. It is not approved for all the different types of adults that have different health issues. So for now, we’re going to be issuing it to healthy adults. And then it will be given in different tiers after that, and they’re going to have to study it on different populations. So I actually think it’s going to take a while before it becomes everybody being vaccinated. And the government has never mandated that the entire population of the United States be vaccinated. And I think as free Americans, that’s probably not where we want to go. But any private business could mandate, like a school could mandate all the children to be vaccinated in order to enroll if they’re a private school. Or airplanes could say you have to have the vaccination to get on the airplane. Any private business could do that. And if that’s what people choose to do, I think that’s what they’ll choose to do. I think it will be a mixture. So I don’t know that the whole population ever will be vaccinated, but we’ll at least get two thirds to three quarters of people immune to COVID-19, either by having had the virus or by having had the vaccine.
Like I said, this is not meant to be comprehensive review of the vaccine. We’ll be talking with someone soon who is on the front line of getting the vaccine, what their personal experience is. And we’re also talking to someone who works in a research lab, not exactly related to the COVID-19 virus, but the COVID-19 virus is down the hall and they are in microbiology as well. Dentists, right now are not on the front line of getting the vaccine — I think we’ll probably be in the second wave.
So keep your ears up. We’ll keep you updated with as much as we know and hope you’ll stay healthy and safe over the holidays.