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COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

What are COVID-19 mRNA vaccines? Science to help debunk myths

There seems to be a lot of confusion about how the new COVID-19 mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The purpose of this article is to give the casual reader a 15 minute (plus or minus an hour) scientific review of the mRNA technology that is the basis of those new vaccines. 

There will be several new COVID-19 vaccines that should be available widely in the next few weeks, but none of those will use mRNA vaccine technology. When those become available, I’ll try to write up a similar review of those technologies.

Let’s give this a go.

Read More »What are COVID-19 mRNA vaccines? Science to help debunk myths

lipid nanoparticles

Lipid nanoparticles in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe – ICAN is wrong

This article about lipid nanoparticles in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines is by VaultDwellerSYR, a pseudonym used by a faculty member of a School of Pharmacy within a large medical school. They have significant research and publications on the effect of certain chemicals on the brain. Although we are opposed to all arguments from authority, the author has a substantial record of actual, published research in the fields of brain cell biology and biochemistry. 

The anti-vaccine Del Bigtree‘s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), as expected, started to seed doubts and fallacious claims on COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, in an attempt to discredit and reduce the uptake of this vaccine by the population.

In their latest stunt, ICAN posted on January 17th on their Facebook page the following statement with a “legal update” pictogram:

ICAN INQUIRES WITH THE FDA ABOUT THE SAFETY OF LIPID NANOPARTICLES USED IN PFIZER’S AND MODERNA’S COVID-19 VACCINESICAN, through its attorneys, has once again written to Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, to demand a response to the question of whether or not lipid nanoparticles used in both of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe. 
ICAN is aware that both Pfizer and Moderna have used lipid nanoparticles (“LNPs”) in their vaccines – LNPs are what the manufacturers use to surround the RNA so that it does not fall apart when injected and before reaching its target cells. Some have compared these LNPs to a fatty envelope or a delivery vehicle to get the mRNA into the human body in one piece.

A concern arose when ICAN was alerted to a study published in 2018 titled Lipid Nanoparticles: A Novel Approach for Brain Targeting. The study states: “…lipid nanoparticles are taken up readily by the brain because of their lipophilic nature. The bioacceptable and biodegradable nature of lipid nanoparticles makes them…suited for brain targeting.” The article also states, “these nanostructures need to be investigated intensively to successfully reach the clinical trials stage.”
ICAN wants to fully understand whether the evidence that these LNPs are easily taken up and end up in the brain is a safety concern with these two particular vaccines. ICAN, through its attorneys, led by Aaron Siri, has therefore sent a letter to Dr. Peter Marks, the Director of the Food and Drug Administrations’ Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. If you recall from previous legal updates, Dr. Marks has referred to himself as “the FDA point person on COVID-19 vaccines” and has assured Americans that the FDA “will make sure they’re safe and effective.” 

ICAN also pointed out to Dr. Marks that there appears to be support for the proposition that the body may react strongly to a second dose of the LNPs. Stated differently, the body is primed to have an immune reaction to the LNPs with the first dose. As explained by Johns Hopkins, “Side effects were more frequent after the second dose in the vaccine trials.” Another article, titled Exogenous nanoparticles and endogenous crystalline molecules as danger signals for the NLRP3 inflammasomes, supports that the increasingly inflammatory side effects observed in those who received the vaccine in Pfizer’s and Moderna’s clinical trials are attributable to the LNPs and that these side effects get worse with repeated injection. We have seen this increased “reactogenicity” clearly in the data from both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 clinical trials. 
ICAN continues to ask the hard questions of Dr. Marks and others: If LNPs from the vaccine, which contain mRNA, are entering brain tissue, and an immune reaction is occurring during the second dose to these LNPs, does this pose a safety concern for vaccine recipients? ICAN asked Dr. Marks to consider the question posed and provide support for the substance of any response he provides.

ICAN will closely review any response from Dr. Marks given his promise that he and the FDA “uphold globally respected standards for product quality, safety, and efficacy” and his statement that he would resign if “something that was unsafe or ineffective [] was being put through.” As always, ICAN offered to provide any additional information or to meet with Dr. Marks to discuss this issue.

As you can see, ICAN is on another one of their PR stunts in the attempt to “cease and desist”, as intimidation with little legal merit and certainly not based on an honest and critical review of the existing literature. Let’s critically examine ICAN’s claims about lipid nanoparticles.

Read More »Lipid nanoparticles in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe – ICAN is wrong

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change DNA – Wakefield is wrong again

The cunning fraud  MrAndrew Wakefield is back again pushing a new brand of anti-vaccine gibberish combined with a huge dollop of COVID-19 denialism. Of course, he would jump into the fray pushing debunked and discredited tropes about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, because he has had nothing factual to say about any vaccine for twenty years. It would be delusional to believe that he would suddenly see the light about these new vaccines.

Of course, the anti-vaccine religion considers Andrew Wakefield one of their high priests, along with Del Bigtree and Robert F Kennedy Jr, all of whom appear to have the power of papal infallibility – whatever they claim is considered dogma, irrespective of science. Of course, Andrew Wakefield’s initial paper about vaccines and autism was retracted, and the overwhelming science debunks this claim.

Wakefield has become so discredited as a “scientist” that he has resorted to “publishing” his most recent gibberish, vaccines are causing the sixth mass extinction, in the discredited Journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which is not indexed in PubMed. The AAPS is a far-right medical association that rejects most science about climate change, vaccines, HIV, and many other issues. In case you’re wondering, their leader, Dr. Jane Orient, is a COVID-19 denier.

So, what has Mr. Wakefield said now? He’s repeating the debunked myth that the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will change your DNA. No, they won’t. Here I go again, disputing more garbage spewed by Andrew Wakefield.

Read More »COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change DNA – Wakefield is wrong again
COVID-19 vaccines contraindications

COVID-19 vaccines contraindications – CDC makes new recommendations

On 6 January 2021, the CDC has issued updated interim guidance for contraindications to Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. As I had discussed previously, the CDC had been focused on an ingredient in both vaccines, polyethylene glycol (PEG), that may cause allergic reactions. 

I think it’s important that the CDC and other public health authorities are transparent and speedy about these new COVID-19 vaccines to make certain that contraindications are widely known.

Read More »COVID-19 vaccines contraindications – CDC makes new recommendations

mrna vaccine myths

mRNA vaccine myths – anti-vax lies about COVID-19 vaccines (UPDATED)

This mRNA vaccine myths article will be updated frequently as new myths appear. To save you the time of reading the myths you already have, the table of contents will have NEW for new listings or REVISED if a myth debunking has been substantially updated. Please like, comment, and share this article, as I think it will be useful in debunking some of the nonsense that we’re seeing from anti-vaxxers. 

Also, please leave a comment if you come across mRNA vaccine myths that should be added here. And please, let’s not go down the rabbit hole of nanobots in this vaccine – there are no nanobots in this vaccine. Worry about Facebook on your iPhone if you think we’re being tracked.

Unless you have been hiding out in the secret cancer cure vault hidden in Greenland, you know that anti-vaxxers are pushing mRNA vaccine myths as the new vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna get closer and closer to launches in the USA and many other parts of the world.

These myths are more serious this time because we need to get herd immunity from vaccines (not from genocide). If we don’t vaccinate enough people, because too many people remain hesitant because of these mRNA vaccine myths, then we may be wearing masks for years.

I haven’t read all of the lies, tropes, and myths from the anti-vaccine crowd regarding various coronavirus vaccines, especially the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Right now, there are just a handful of these mRNA vaccine myths, but I plan to add to this article as new ones are uncovered. I’m going to do my best to cut off these lies as soon as I can.

Read More »mRNA vaccine myths – anti-vax lies about COVID-19 vaccines (UPDATED)

Unprotected sex and COVID-19 vaccine

Unprotected sex and COVID-19 vaccine – another ridiculous anti-vax myth

And here we go again, another COVID-19 vaccine myth – you shouldn’t have unprotected sex after vaccination. I once thought that the HPV vaccine was the most hated by anti-vaxxers, but I think the COVID-19 vaccines are moving to the top of the list.

Before I get into the details, let’s go for the spoiler alert – there are reasons to not have unprotected sex, but getting the COVID-19 vaccine is not one of them. 

Like all anti-vaccine myths, it results from scientific amateurism from people trying to use anything to end vaccinations and spread diseases. It’s so frustrating, but it deserves a debunking.

Read More »Unprotected sex and COVID-19 vaccine – another ridiculous anti-vax myth

2020 top 10 list

2020 top 10 articles – not all about vaccines and COVID-19

It’s that time of the year, the top 10 articles of 2020 on the Skeptical Raptor website. As years go, 2020 is quite at the level of 1939, when WWII started that killed six million Jews and over 50 million other people, or 1347, the first year of the Black Death, which eventually killed up to 200 million people.

But in my lifetime, 2020 ranks at or near the top 10 of the “years that suck” list. 

Traditionally, I repost the top 10 list of articles that I have written over the past year, but 2020 is different. The news about COVID-19, vaccines, and quack treatments have required constant writing so, I never got to do the reposts. So, I’m just going to list the 2020’s top 10 list of articles.

Please take time to read some of them, repost them if they’re interesting, and comment. It helps this website grow and gets out facts about important science and medical issues that are the target of science deniers.

Read More »2020 top 10 articles – not all about vaccines and COVID-19

moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine – FDA approves emergency use authorization

On 17 December 2020, the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was reviewed by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) in advance of an emergency use authorization (EUA). VRBPAC gave an overwhelming recommendation for the vaccine, and the FDA issued the EUA today.

This article will quickly review the major points about the VRBPAC discussion, a review of some of the data, and finally a summary of what we know and don’t know about the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. 

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Bell's palsy

Bell’s palsy and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines – let’s temper the concerns

A new issue has arisen with the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines – Bell’s palsy, a type of facial paralysis. The FDA has issued a “staff report” on Tuesday, 15 December 2020, that recommends monitoring people who receive those vaccines be monitored for the condition.

As I wrote earlier about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine facts, there were a few reports of the condition after vaccination. However, we need to examine the situation carefully, so that we all have accurate information about the seriousness (or lack thereof) of this risk.

So, let’s dive into this.

Read More »Bell’s palsy and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines – let’s temper the concerns

Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine

Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine facts – science to counter false claims

On 17 December 2020, the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine will undergo an FDA expert review, similar to the one with the Pfizer version of the vaccine. We can expect that it will get FDA clearance soon and more sites across the USA and other parts of the world will get the vaccine. This article will follow the structure that I used to describe everything we know about the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

Almost all of the information will come from the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine documents that were submitted for review by the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) in advance of an emergency use authorization (EUA) that will be issued by the FDA probably on 17 December 2020. I read through most of the material to save you all time during this holiday season (so please like this article and share it across the planet).

I’m going to just hit what I think will be the most important points about the vaccine’s safety, effectiveness, ingredients, and other related information. Because these Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine facts will be most useful in debunking wild claims that you might read on the internet. 

This will be different than my myth debunking article (which will be constantly updated as the anti-vaxxers get going with their lies and disinformation), as this article will try to make sure that everyone is on the same page with what this vaccine is. 

Read More »Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine facts – science to counter false claims