The wondrous "how the mRNA vaccines work" viral video

The wondrous "how the mRNA vaccines work" viral video

A nifty clip that’s making the rounds today even though it’s more than three months old. Who knows why viral videos (or viral pathogens) spread on the timeline that they do? Watch, then read on.

Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines. Johnson & Johnson is an adenovirus vaccine, and yes, there’s a video from the same outfit that explains the mechanics of that one too. Essentially there’s an extra step in the J&J process. Instead of prefab mRNA molecules being released directly into a cell’s cytoplasm, where they instruct the cell to produce the spike protein from the coronavirus, the adenovirus enters the cell’s nucleus and its genetic material is transcribed into that same mRNA. The ultimate result in both cases are antibodies honed to target the virus’s telltale spike.

Unfortunately, those antibodies don’t last forever, which is why the feds are about to have another messy squabble over who should and shouldn’t be getting a booster shot before the winter wave hits full force. Should all adults be eligible for boosters? Just adults who are “high risk”? Some group in between?

Most of the administration’s senior health officials — including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy; and David Kessler, chief science officer of the White House coronavirus response team — are strong supporters of booster shots for all adults, according to people familiar with their views. Murthy did not respond to a request for comment and Kessler declined to comment.

Fauci said in an interview that he backs wider access to boosters “given that we are starting to see plateauing and even in certain states, an actual increase in cases.” He added: “I have always been and still am in favor of boosters. Exactly who gets the boosters is up to the FDA and up to the CDC.”…

“Europe is on fire,” said a senior health official. “And in the United States, the case counts are not going down. States in the Midwest are getting redder” with rising rates of covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

The feds are looking at the data, noticing that cases in the U.S. have begun to rise ever so slightly again, and see the makings of another rough winter stretch like we had last year. The more adults who are boosted — including young adults who are at near zero risk of a severe case — the less transmission there’ll be. Some states are so eager to douse the fire before it spreads that they’re not waiting around for the feds to make up their minds. Colorado and California have already made all adults 18 and over eligible for a third dose.

Is that necessary, though? The current rules for boosters are so lax that practically anyone who wants one can get one by telling a little white lie. If you have an underlying condition (which includes mood disorders like depression) or you’re at high risk because of work, all you need to do is assure your local pharmacy that you’re eligible and they’ll jab you. Meanwhile, Americans cheered by the decline in cases over the past month have begun letting down their guard and taking more chances by masking and social distancing less often. Those people are unlikely to go running out for a booster until their community is facing a crisis again.

Bottom line: No one who wants a booster now is resolutely holding off until they get the official Rochelle Walensky seal of approval. Whether boosters for all adults (or some, like over-30s) are approved or not, whoever wants one can and will get one whenever they like.

And it’s probably worth doing, as there’s suddenly a new pandemic threat for Americans to worry about: Deer.

A new study of hundreds of white-tailed deer infected with the coronavirus in Iowa has found that the animals probably are contracting the virus from humans, and then rapidly spreading it among one another, according to researchers…

“It was effectively showing up in all parts of the state,” said Dr. Kuchipudi. “We were dumbfounded.”…

“If deer can transmit the virus to humans, it’s a game changer,” said Tony Goldberg, a veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the evolution of infectious diseases as they jump between animals and people. “To have a wildlife species become a reservoir after transmission from humans is very rare and unlucky, as if we needed more bad luck.”

The zoonotic theory of COVID’s origins is that a previously harmless coronavirus mutated by chance in a bat in China, was somehow transmitted to another animal (or a series of animals), and then ultimately transmitted to a human. Something similar could happen with variants, right here in America thanks to our wildlife. Think of it as gain-of-function the old-fashioned way.

Exit question: How the hell did the virus get from humans to deer? And how did it get from one deer to so many others? It’s not supposed to travel easily outdoors, right?

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023