Pharmacy Phriday #4: mRNA Vaccines - The Emergency Medical Minute

Pharmacy Phriday #4: mRNA Vaccines

Contributor: Rachael Duncan, PharmD

Educational Pearls: 

  • ED visits nationwide declined by 42% in April 2020 compared to the same time in 2019 largely due to the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest decline was seen in pediatrics less than 14, women and emerging COVID hotspots like the Northeast.
  • In recent weeks, this trend has reversed, showing a record-breaking number of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. As hospitals reach capacity, critically ill COVID patients are being held in the ED until an inpatient bed becomes available. 
  • A new mRNA vaccine has promising preliminary trial results to help end the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • While traditional vaccines contain purified proteins or weakened viruses, the mRNA vaccine is genetic material that is coded within the human body to make the viral protein. 
  • The mRNA vaccine codes for the critical fragment of the viral protein without causing disease and leads to the production of powerful antibodies. 
  • Although synthetic mRNA is genetic material, it cannot be passed on to further generations. 
  • mRNA vaccines are much faster to develop and could potentially provide a more efficient process for developing future vaccines
  • Cold temperatures are currently needed to maintain the stability of the mRNA which has posed a challenge to the viability of the vaccines. However, developments are underway to overcome this hurdle.

 

References: 

A Trial Investigating the Safety and Effects of Four BNT162 Vaccines Against COVID-2019 in Healthy Adults – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. Clinicaltrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04380701. Published 2020. Accessed November 25, 2020.

Karikó K, Buckstein M, Ni H, Weissman D. Suppression of RNA recognition by Toll-like receptors: the impact of nucleoside modification and the evolutionary origin of RNA. Immunity. 2005;23(2):165-175. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2005.06.008

Safety and Immunogenicity Study of 2019-nCoV Vaccine (mRNA-1273) for Prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (COVID-19) – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. Clinicaltrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04283461. Published 2020. Accessed November 25, 2020.

Schlake T, Thess A, Fotin-Mleczek M, Kallen KJ. Developing mRNA-vaccine technologies. RNA Biol. 2012;9(11):1319-1330. doi:10.4161/rna.22269

Wolff JA, Malone RW, Williams P, et al. Direct gene transfer into mouse muscle in vivo. Science. 1990;247(4949 Pt 1):1465-1468. doi:10.1126/science.1690918

 

Summarized by Emily Mack OMSIII | Edited by Mason Tuttle

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