In the latest episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, Dr. Mark Poznansky, Founder/Blogger at Saved By Science, sat down to discuss a range of interesting science topics such as synthetic biology, vaccines, COVID-19, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and GMOs. We also explored his work to improve science literacy among the general population, along with the scientific and technological innovations that he believes could help save the planet.
Below is a sneak peek of our discussion:
Q: What enabled a [COVID-19] vaccine that would have taken decades to create to really have been created within less than a year?
A: Traditionally, you had little bits of virus or little bits of bacteria. You inactivated them so they weren’t dangerous and you’re injecting them into some subjects or some patients, and you hope that those subjects or patients would develop antibodies and make the individual immune from subsequent infection. That was the way vaccines were made for the past 200 years. They became a little bit more sophisticated but not much more sophisticated. That’s why, when we started working on the vaccine for COVID-19, we talked about, “Maybe we would have the vaccine in 4 years,” but we weren’t sure.
The modern vaccines for COVID-19 don’t use that piece of biological material. They use an instruction–and that is messenger RNA. All you do is you give the patient that instruction and the patient makes the vaccine themselves effectively. Making the vaccine, you make it in a chemistry laboratory coming off from a computer, as opposed to a more complicated biology laboratory, so it could be done very quickly.
Because it’s not a dead virus you are giving and just a little bit of mRNA, you would assume that the safety is going to be very high. That is exactly what happened. Now, the Americans and Brits, Pfizer and Moderna, are talking, but the next time we have a virus, like the COVID-19 virus, we will be able to make the vaccine in a period of weeks rather than many months. Eventually, even shorter than that…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Dr. Mark Poznansky, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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