COVID-19 Vaccines Myth Vs Fact: No Vaccines Do Not Alter DNA

COVID-19 Vaccines Myth Vs Fact: No Vaccines Do Not Alter DNA

According to the experts, mRNA vaccines having the ability to alter human DNA is a myth as mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cells where DNA resides
Coronavirus Outbreak, Coronavirus Vaccine
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COVID-19 Vaccines Myth Vs Fact No Vaccines Do Not Alter DNAPfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 and Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are mRNA (messenger-RNA) vaccines developed in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic
Highlights
  • mRNA vaccines give a message to the human body to produce immune response
  • mRNA is fragile and can hang around inside a cell for only 72 hours: Expert
  • mRNA vaccines are being used for the first time and are approved by WHO

New Delhi: Along with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts are battling misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Right from the origins of the virus, home remedies to cure COVID-19 and now with vaccine rollout, researchers, medical experts and scientists have throughout the pandemic had an additional task of dispelling myths and busting misinformation. One of the common myths doing rounds on the internet around coronavirus vaccine is that it irreversibly changes the DNA of an individual. NDTV spoke to experts to understand the science behind it.

Also Read: WHO’s Team Tracing the Origin Of COVID-19 Is Back From China; Experts Explain Why It Is Important To Find The Source Of The Outbreak

The myth the COVID-19 vaccines alter the DNA is specific to mRNA (messenger-RNA) vaccines as they use the genetic approach. Two of the COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech’s BNT162b2 and Moderna’s mRNA-1273 – are mRNA vaccines.

DNA Vs mRNA

Dr Mala V. Kaneria, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, suggests understanding the difference between DNA and mRNA. She explained,

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a double stranded, very long genetic material which is spunned up together inside a part of the cell called the nucleus. Whereas mRNA is a single stranded copy of a very small part of the DNA which is routinely made in the nucleus and released into the cytoplasm outside the nucleus. The function of mRNA is to act like an instruction manual to provide instructions to the cellular machinery to make proteins which are required for the body.

Also Read: COVID-19 Vaccine Explainer: How Do Vaccines Work?

What Are mRNA Vaccines?

In layman’s language, the job of mRNA is to give a message to our cells to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein which are like those of the virus. The protein then triggers an immune response inside our bodies.

Additionally, Dr Prashant Borade, Head – Critical Care Unit, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, said,

The available COVID-19 vaccines are designed to help your body’s immune system fight the coronavirus. The messenger RNA from two of the first types of COVID-19 vaccines does enter cells, but not the nucleus of the cells where DNA resides. The mRNA does its job to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down — without affecting the person’s DNA.

Dr Kaneria added that mRNA is fragile compared to the DNA and can hang around inside a cell for only 72 hours.

The minute mRNA’s function of giving instructions to our cells is over; it is degraded by our cells. Therefore, mRNA doesn’t remain in the body for long, said Dr Kaneria.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Technology Used By Pfizer-BioNTech And Moderna?

Are mRNA Vaccines Safe?

Dr Katherine O’Brien, WHO Director of the Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals dismissed the rumour and said, there is no way that mRNA can turn into DNA. And there’s no way that mRNA can change the DNA of our human cells. She added,

What mRNA is, it is the instructions to the body to make a protein. Most vaccines are developed by actually giving a protein or giving a small, tiny component of the germ that we are trying to vaccinate against. And this is a new approach where instead of giving that tiny little part, we just give the instructions to our own bodies to make that tiny little part and then our natural immune system responds to it.

According to Dr Kaneria, the fear that mRNA vaccines can modify DNA stems from the fact that there are certain viruses like the HIV virus which are known to integrate into the DNA and cause its replication. However, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.

On December 31, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) listed the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began. Though the technology has been there for decades, Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is the first mRNA vaccine to be approved for use in humans.

Also Read: Vaccine Hesitancy: What It Means And How We Can Tackle It, Experts Explain

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

19,59,54,660Cases
6,30,45,359Active
12,87,22,004Recovered
41,87,297Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,59,54,660 and 41,87,297 have died; 6,30,45,359 are active cases and 12,87,22,004 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,15,28,114 43,509Cases
4,03,840 4,404Active
3,07,01,612 38,465Recovered
4,22,662 640Deaths
In India, there are 3,15,28,114 confirmed cases including 4,22,662 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,03,840 and 3,07,01,612 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

62,82,914 6,857

85,913 466

60,64,856 6,105

1,32,145 286

Kerala

33,27,301 22,056

1,50,040 4,164

31,60,804 17,761

16,457 131

Karnataka

28,99,195 1,531

22,592 82

28,40,147 1,430

36,456 19

Tamil Nadu

25,53,805 1,756

21,521 667

24,98,289 2,394

33,995 29

Andhra Pradesh

19,59,942 2,010

20,999 34

19,25,631 1,956

13,312 20

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,313 87

768 30

16,84,790 116

22,755 1

West Bengal

15,25,773 815

11,370 10

14,96,294 811

18,109 14

Delhi

14,36,093 67

573 3

14,10,471 61

25,049 3

Chhattisgarh

10,01,651 164

2,226 164

9,85,905 327

13,520 1

Odisha

9,72,517 1,703

15,765 65

9,51,049 1,699

5,703 69

Rajasthan

9,53,605 30

268 10

9,44,384 40

8,953

Gujarat

8,24,802 28

274 11

8,14,452 39

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,778 11

130 8

7,81,135 18

10,513 1

Haryana

7,69,828 32

702 1

7,59,499 28

9,627 3

Bihar

7,24,673 76

480 4

7,14,554 80

9,639

Telangana

6,43,093 657

9,314 77

6,29,986 578

3,793 2

Punjab

5,98,947 65

559 24

5,82,102 84

16,286 5

Assam

5,62,731 1,276

14,499 536

5,43,031 1,791

5,201 21

Jharkhand

3,47,049 27

237 10

3,41,686 36

5,126 1

Uttarakhand

3,41,934 60

672 13

3,33,901 47

7,361

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,026 160

1,139 15

3,15,511 144

4,376 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,05,499 116

953 30

2,01,026 84

3,520 2

Goa

1,70,810 81

1,082 48

1,66,586 127

3,142 2

Puducherry

1,20,627 97

923 0

1,17,912 96

1,792 1

Manipur

95,824 1,003

10,922 120

83,392 871

1,510 12

Tripura

77,788 376

3,861 107

73,177 267

750 2

Meghalaya

63,014 541

5,456 124

56,510 409

1,048 8

Chandigarh

61,943 5

36 1

61,098 6

809

Arunachal Pradesh

47,142 342

4,301 14

42,617 325

224 3

Mizoram

36,407 1,110

11,610 686

24,657 424

140

Nagaland

27,586 114

1,350 34

25,684 78

552 2

Sikkim

25,856 240

3,117 42

22,406 198

333

Ladakh

20,320 6

64 6

20,049 12

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,642 3

41 3

10,597 6

4

Lakshadweep

10,155 6

76 6

10,029 11

50 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,531 1

7 5

7,395 6

129

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