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HudsonAlpha scientist explains coronavirus vaccine's genetic composition

The vaccines being made are unlike vaccines used to prevent other viruses.

Posted: Dec 15, 2020 7:48 PM

WAAY 31 learned more about the coronavirus vaccine's genetic composition and how it's made different than those in the past.

Neil Lamb, a faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is helping educate people about the virus, vaccine and breaking down the science behind them.

He said mRNA is vaccine technology that's never been used before, but scientists have studied it for about 10 years. In the last year or two, the technology to make lots of mRNA, he explained, have become more affordable and accessible.

"It's a temporary piece of instruction. It's copied from DNA. It's kind of short term. It hangs around for a little while and disappears. It's broken down, so the concept behind an mRNA vaccine is inject the cell with a little bit of message, a mRNA recipe, for how to make a piece of the spike protein and so the cell's machinery reads this mRNA message, makes the spike protein, put that on the outside of the muscle cells and that unusual protein activates the immune system to build up an immune response to that spike protein, so you're priming your immune system to recognize the spike protein and respond, so that if later on, after you've been vaccinated, if you've been infected, the spike protein that sits on the outside of the virus said, 'oh, I've seen that protein. Here's what I need to do to respond to it,'" he said.

Lamb also said it's important for everyone to know this vaccine does not alter your DNA. He said it's completely separate from your DNA.

He says just like any vaccination, there can be some side effects. Some common possible side effects on the arm where you get the shot could include pain and swelling. You might also experience fever, chills and headaches.

"That generally lasts 12-24 hours. It's unpleasant, it's uncomfortable, it feels like you might get a cold, like you're coming down with something, but that tells you that your immune system is actually doing its job. Generally, by the next day, people feel much better," he said.

Lamb explained a more serious side effect that's being investigated is Bell's Palsy, which would cause facial paralysis on typically one side of your face. The FDA recommends watching for it after receiving the vaccine, but said there are four reported cases of Bell's Palsy among Moderna's 30,000 trial recipients.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530744

Reported Deaths: 10978
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson764931522
Mobile40959804
Madison34735503
Tuscaloosa25749452
Montgomery24327589
Shelby23425249
Baldwin21123308
Lee15873171
Calhoun14496314
Morgan14288279
Etowah13826353
Marshall12213223
Houston10561281
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Limestone9958151
Cullman9659193
St. Clair9652243
Lauderdale9420241
DeKalb8828186
Talladega8220176
Walker7231277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6809112
Blount6656137
Colbert6296134
Coffee5509119
Dale4830111
Russell440738
Chilton4284112
Franklin425682
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4026152
Escambia393376
Chambers3560123
Dallas3547151
Clarke351061
Marion3116101
Pike310877
Lawrence300298
Winston274272
Bibb260564
Marengo249664
Geneva249477
Pickens234361
Barbour230757
Hale222877
Butler215969
Fayette212262
Henry188744
Cherokee184645
Randolph180141
Monroe177340
Washington167239
Macon158950
Clay156156
Crenshaw152257
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138753
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110329
Perry107526
Coosa107228
Sumter104432
Greene92334
Choctaw60624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 852841

Reported Deaths: 12255
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby956561619
Davidson89355933
Knox50675635
Hamilton44280494
Rutherford43046434
Williamson28015217
Sumner24012349
Montgomery20255225
Wilson18804234
Out of TN1840797
Unassigned16998134
Sullivan16794294
Blount15490193
Bradley15032150
Washington14597245
Maury13499172
Sevier13391175
Putnam11396175
Madison11168242
Robertson9756131
Anderson8760172
Hamblen8610173
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Tipton7359103
Coffee6905121
Dickson6840110
Cumberland6734132
Carter6634158
Gibson6526146
McMinn650898
Bedford6506128
Roane6282105
Jefferson6211124
Loudon613069
Hawkins6077107
Lawrence593887
Monroe584095
Warren554881
Dyer5425106
Franklin515090
Fayette506877
Cheatham455355
Obion454196
Cocke450099
Lincoln435763
Rhea434875
Marshall419058
Campbell415463
Weakley412865
Giles3996100
Henderson378976
White364170
Macon361978
Carroll361683
Hardin357167
Hardeman352664
Lauderdale318944
Henry318576
Claiborne318273
Marion312347
Scott312345
Overton301161
Wayne296334
Hickman284046
McNairy282054
DeKalb279654
Smith277839
Haywood271162
Grainger262850
Morgan250139
Trousdale250122
Fentress241547
Johnson240739
Chester214351
Bledsoe214211
Polk207824
Unicoi203549
Crockett203248
Cannon192031
Union190734
Humphreys179927
Grundy179334
Lake170326
Sequatchie169829
Benton166540
Decatur158639
Lewis158126
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Jackson132036
Clay110131
Houston109333
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Moore101117
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