While more than 3 million people died worldwide due to the new type of corona virus pandemic, vaccines are seen as the only way to stop the epidemic. However, it is difficult for non-scientists to follow recent studies on the efficacy and side effects of vaccines and make sense of this research. This causes false information to spread on the internet, causing vital danger. “Do mRNA vaccines degrade DNA?” “Does the vaccine cause infertility?”, “Is the vaccine rushed?” and “Is passing the disease more protective?” You can find answers to the questions in this news.
The DW Confirmation team investigated whether the claims about Covid-19 vaccines were true.
This claim is not true. Known as the abbreviation terms for cell genetics, DNA and RNA are often confused, but they are actually very different from each other. DNA contains the genetic blueprint that determines various characteristics of our body. Viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 have RNAs that store their genetic material. RNA is also found in the human body and plays a role in protein synthesis. Viruses take advantage of this protein synthesis mechanism to reproduce in human cells. In addition, the human body fights with protein increases by producing antibodies and T cells with viruses.
RNA vaccines inject messenger RNA into the human body that contains only one element of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a plan to produce viruses-fighting spike proteins. The human immune system activates with the vaccine and creates antibodies against the pathogen. However, no human or viral RNA can enter the cell nucleus. This means it doesn’t come into contact with our genetic material, our DNA. Cells break down RNA after it has served its purpose.
A scientific study published in December 2020 claimed that genetic material derived from the SARS-CoV-2 virus can cause changes in human DNA via reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that copies RNA into DNA and can enter the cell nucleus. However, the work in question has not yet been peer-reviewed and is being hotly debated.
Virologist David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, who won the Nobel Prize for his role in discovering reverse transcriptase, told the respected science journal Science that the research raises many interesting questions, but the research shows that only parts of SARS-CoV-2 can be integrated, but this is infectious material. He says he did not create. “This is probably a biological impasse,” says Baltimore.
Could the same be the case with the mRna vaccine? Waldemar Kolanus, president of the University of Bonn’s Institute of Natural and Medical Sciences (LIMES), is skeptical of the vaccine-related relevance of the findings. In a statement to DW, Kolanus said that the structure of mRNA was deliberately altered for vaccines to prevent the cells from breaking down immediately, saying that the vaccines “likely would not reverse transcription” and therefore, mRNA vaccines are much safer for such processes than real virus genomes. says.
The origin of this claim is based on the similarity of a protein in the placenta to the spike proteins in the virus. Antibodies produced in SARS-CoV-2 vaccines were claimed to bind not only to virus spike proteins, but also to Syncytin-1, a protein involved in placental development. Some claim that vaccines disable this protein and thus cause infertility. However, this claim is not true either.
“Generally speaking, there are many reasons why this theory may not be correct,” Udo Markert, from the Placenta Laboratory of the University of Jena in Germany, commented to DW. The first reason is that both proteins have very little in common, according to Markert, who says the two proteins are only 0.75 percent identical. Markert emphasizes that this is very little. A drug developed against multiple sclerosis disease (MS) in the past has been studied for this potential danger. The protein in question was found to be 81 percent similar to Syncytin-1. Despite this close similarity, there were no noticeable side effects.
Udo Markert says the virus itself is another reason why this theory might not be true. Even if the infertility theory is correct, Covid-19 disease is a greater risk for women’s fertility than any vaccine, according to Markert, who says “women are exposed to a much higher amount of protein than vaccination” after an infection. Markert also points out that during the 2003-2004 SARS epidemic, women who suffered from the disease did not show any signs of infertility. After all, the spike protein in the SARS virus is very similar to the protein found in SARS-CoV-2.
Developing and getting vaccines approved is generally known to take 10 to 15 years, sometimes longer; however, it took less than a year for the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to be developed and approved. Therefore, it is understandable that some people feel uncomfortable and suspicious of this pace. However, this claim is misleading. Because there are several explanations for the vaccines being available in such a short time. The first is that vaccine developers are trying to develop a vaccine based on pre-existing knowledge. Technologies that have previously been studied and even tested are used in vaccines. Researchers already knew a lot about coronaviruses from studies on pathogens of SARS and MERS (2012). Vaccines have also been developed in these contexts. A second reason is that large amounts of money have been invested worldwide in the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. This has helped provide researchers with ample resources and staff to take on this task and perform much more tests than usual.
A third reason lies in the fact that many processes have been streamlined and accelerated. Participating in the tests of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Dr. Mark Toshner told the British broadcaster BBC that it was misleading to think vaccine trials took years. He stated that the main time it took was waiting for research funding, finding subjects, and experimenting, getting permission for them. Since time is of the essence in a pandemic, some tests that are normally performed in a row were carried out simultaneously. Vaccines were then subjected to sequential examination. This means that the authorities evaluate the test results as soon as they arrive. But despite these accelerated steps, all vaccines had to undergo rigorous scrutiny by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for market approval in the EU. For all these reasons, the accelerated development and screening processes simply point out that vaccine development is given top priority in the midst of a global pandemic.
This claim is misleading. The vast majority of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus show only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. During the first wave of infections in the spring of 2020, 80 percent of those positive for COVID-19 showed mild symptoms, according to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The remaining 20 percent suffered from severe or even extremely dangerous symptoms. However, there is no guarantee that individuals who are unlikely to develop severe symptoms will turn into a serious COVID-19 case. Young, healthy people also continue to show severe symptoms and even die.
On the other hand, the burning virus is known to cause long-term health problems. These problems often include chronic fatigue and cardio-vascular problems. These long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms can occur not only in patients with severe symptoms, but also in patients with milder symptoms. Reinhold Förster, vice president of the German Immunology Association, told DW that it is not currently known whether and when long-term symptoms will pass. According to Förster, choosing to have an infection instead of now means taking a “big risk”.
There is another argument in favor of vaccines. Immune systems react differently to vaccines from real infections. Speaking to the German public broadcaster NDR, virologist Prof. Dr. “Vaccines could provide longer-term protection against infection,” said Christian Drosten. Drosten stated that in the studies, it was observed that vaccines led to more permanent and higher antibody production. Förster is of the same opinion. “Essentially, the quantity and quality of antibodies produced are important,” says Förster, in antibody development, the tendency of antibodies to bind to proteins and thus prevent infections. Förster says that antibodies showing these properties were observed in those who had two doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine.