COVID-19 Vaccine : What is it made up of … ?????

COVID-19 … whatever happens now this term has made a permanent space in the history. But, more than its contamination and destruction caused by it, if anything will be remembered, it will be the story of RECOVERY. How was the vaccine developed and that too within a year when we have history showing it took much longer durations to prepare vaccines for the diseases like SARS and Hepatitis. But, as we know vaccines for Coronavirus are already out with even vaccinations going on, that too not from just one but multiple parties. Here comes up the question, what exactly is able to cure us from Coronavirus and how So, what I am gonna talk about in this Article is of what exactly these COVID-19 Vaccines are made up of.

Vaccines topic 2 01 Vaccine Antigens

How is ANY Vaccine prepared … ?????

First of all, let us find out for any vaccine in general, what is it made up of :

  • ANTIGEN : The first and foremost material in any vaccine is ….. trust me you will be shocked … the virus (or any other disease causing organism) itself, but in a small or weakened form. This component is called an ANTIGEN which is either a small part of the disease causing organism itself or the whole organism … but in a weakened form.
  • PRESERVATIVES : They are used to prevent a vaccine from getting contaminated after the vial is opened. But, in some vaccines there is no need of preservatives as they are one-time vials having single dose. 2-phenoxyethanol is the most commonly used Preservative in a number of vaccines including many baby care products.
  • STABILISERS : The purpose of a stabilizer is to prevent any chemical reaction from happening within the components of a vaccine and also preventing the vaccine components from sticking to the vial. There has been a number of components which have been used as Stabilizers in vaccines such as different types of Sugars, Amino Acids, Gelatin and Proteins.
  • SURFACANTS : In addition to the above core components there are some Surfactants as well … their purpose is to keep all the elements bended together preventing any settling or crumpling of any liquid ingredient present.
  • RESIDUALS : There are some tiny amounts mostly of water substances that are not an ingredient in the vaccine, the left out substance sometimes even containing egg protein, yeast or antibiotic. It is measured in parts per million/billion and varies on the basis of manufacturing technique used.
  • DILUENT : Some vaccines also contain Diluents like sterile water to keep a vaccine diluted and in correct concentration.
  • ADJUVANT : Some vaccines also have Adjuvants, the purpose of which is to improve the immune response of the vaccine either by keeping the vaccine at the injection site for a little longer or by stimulating local immune cells.

We all know and also saw in the case of COVID-19 that for before a vaccine, there are clinical trials taking place in various phases on thousands of volunteers. It is done on people of all age group and all climatic regions to get the most accurate ‘Efficacy Rate’. After all the results are out and all its aspects including side effects and testing data are available in public domain, does the vaccine gets ready for use. Now, here I would not like to get into the topic which vaccine is better COVAXIN or COVIDSHIELD and was it early to give them permission, as that that is a completely different topic.

Now … looking over the CORONAVIRUS Vaccine

Now … we know how a vaccine is made. So, let’s specifically look into the vaccines made for COVID-19. Well, if I go into the real chemical names of the active ingredient, salts and lipids used in it … no one is gonnna understand anything. After all neither you are WALTER WHITE nor am I. So … let me break down the ingredients in as simple language as possible :

  1. ACTIVE INGREDIENT (mRNA) : This RNA sequence is taken from the coronavirus itself, and is an actual genetic information in the form of ‘Messenger’ RNA (mRNA). The vaccine is delivered as a shot in the arm muscle, causing cells to manufacture a big ‘Spike’ protein of coronavirus after which the pathogens enter into the cell. Since it’s only a tiny art of virus, it’s quite harmless and instead immunizes the body against the virus. The shape of mRNA can be considered like long ticker tape carrying instructions and delicate in nature. This is the reason why Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at around -100 F (-73 C).
  2. LIPIDS : In these COVID-19 vaccines, Lipid Nanoparticles are used to encase RNA and slide it inside cells. These particles are basically tiny greasy spheres around 100 nanometers in size (same as of Coronavirus itself). ALC-0315 (a particular lipid) is the most commonly used one in COVID-19 vaccines and the reason behind it is that it is Ionizable (can be given a charge … in this case a positive one) which helps it in sticking with RNA which has a negative charge. If we take Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in particular, both use 4 different lipids in a particular ratio.
  3. SALTS : Ordinary table salt is also a very common ingredient in a Coronavirus vaccine which helps in keeping the pH (acidity) of the vaccine close to that of a person’s body. In the case of Pfizer, four different salts are used, together known as Phosphate-Buffered Saline (PBS) and in Moderna also 4 different salts are used.
  4. SUGAR : Coronavirus Vaccine uses plain old sugar (sucrose) as a cryoprotectant to protect the nanoparticles from sticking together when frozen.
  5. SALINE SOLUTION : There is a saline solution containing sodium chloride (normal salt) in which the vaccine is mixed before injection to keep the salt content at par with that of blood.
Vaccine Ingredients: Antigen, Adjuvant, Preservatives, Stabilizers, Surfactants, Residuals, Diluent.

The Cattle Factor :

There was a big question pertaining to whether anything obtained from a cattle is used in the COVID-19 vaccines. The answer is YES … instead cattle serum is a very useful ingredient of any vaccine. And however sad it may sound, for that a pregnant cow is slaughtered and its Foetus is kept in Lab to separate the Serum out of the Foetus blood. In every COVID-19 vaccine, for example in COVAXIN there is 5-10 % new born cattle serum (within 3 to 10 days of the birth of the cattle). And for getting that INDIA imported 1.5 crore worth Cattle serum from April to June only from abundant supplies of Australia, New Zealand, USA. The reason why we needed to import it was, to save the scientists and research institutes from the wrath of GAU RAKSHAKS … who I wonder how will they take the vaccines now. Though, ways are being searched to somehow use DNA technology to replace cattle serum with some synthetic or artificial substance, but the process being expensive is not allowing scientists to switch onto that. Well, before ending let me tell you that the cells of even the African Green Monkey has been used for this vaccine.

Conclusion : Thank You

What else can we conclude other than thanking all the scientists and COVID Warriors out there who have worked tirelessly to finally equip us with the ultimate weapon against the virus. Here, we should forget one’s religious belief and Stereotypes aside and make sure that the effort put in by them is used at its fullest. The current rate of vaccination is not at all up to the mark because of Vaccine Hesitancy. Experts are worried that this may lead to many vaccine getting wasted that too unused. It will be a huge setback for the scientists and so hereby I request every reader of mine to actively take the vaccine and make the efforts of the scientists fruitful. Side effects may be there but it’s not dangerous … so VACCINATE Guys and give your Salute to the Scientists.



References :

  1. How are vaccines developed? Dec 8, 2020
  2. This is why blood from newborn cattle is being used to develop Indian Covid vaccine, Mohana Basu, Sep 16, 2020

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