Local health expert breaks down how COVID-19 vaccine works

Local health expert breaks down how COVID-19 vaccine works

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Over the past couple of months, words like antibodies, spike protein and messenger RNA have been thrown around when talking about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Those words can make it difficult to understand how the vaccine actually works.

According to the CDC, antibodies, “protect the body from disease by binding to organisms and destroying them.” The organization says they are proteins that “are produced in response to foreign substances.”

How does this work to fight the deadly COVID-19 virus?

“With these vaccines, what we have trained our body to do is to just make antibodies against a tiny little part of this virus,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh, with Hattiesburg Clinic and Forrest General Hospital. “It’s a distinct enough part of the virus that makes it unique to this virus, and that’s basically it. We have essentially trained our body to be a very precise instrument of defense against this virus by having it recognize it very, very quickly.”

In more scientific terms:

“This genetic material, because it’s mRNA, it doesn’t need to cross into our nucleus where our own genetic material resides in order to encode,” said Rouhbakhsh. “So, it just stays in the cytoplasm or the big fluid portion of the cell, and at that point, a mRNA is able to be transcribed into a piece of protein in this case a spike protein.”

And then the magic, well, science happens.

“And then off we go. We build antibodies against it,” said Rouhbakhsh.

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