The vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer for the Covid-19 pandemic are currently being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency with the aim of being licensed by the end of December or the very beginning of 2021. But what are these vaccines that use the hitherto unknown Messenger RNA technology really worth?
The European Medicines Agency is due to make a decision by 29 December on the first application for authorisation of the BNT162b2 vaccine, which was developed by Pfizer and BionTech.However and despite the enthusiasm that this announcement provoked, the health authorities recently recalled that they only have press releases from the industry for the moment and are therefore eagerly awaiting more scientific data. As far as the Moderna vaccine is concerned, the European agency will make its decision on 12 January next.
These two vaccines could thus put an end to the pandemic which has been hitting the planet for a year and which has had disastrous health and economic consequences. But the technology used by the latter, messenger RNA, has never before been used in a vaccine and therefore raises a number of questions. It should be noted here that mRNA is a technology that consists of a temporary copy of a genetic code. It thus contains instructions for the production of proteins by the cells of the human body such as the Spyke protein that allows the virus to infect human cells. The objective of these two vaccines is therefore to make the organism recognize this protein in order to be better armed against the virus.
Other vaccines under development use more familiar methods, including inactivated virus or protein vaccines.
If the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer are currently leading the race, it is not without reason. They have the advantage of being simpler and quicker to produce. Messenger RNA technology has been developed over the past decade as part of the search for solutions against certain emerging diseases.
As we have just mentioned, this type of vaccine will lead to the production of the necessary proteins directly by the body and therefore avoids having to produce them in the laboratory. The response is therefore better adapted to the urgency of the current situation.
But that's not all! Indeed, the use of messenger RNA tends to reduce the possible side effects encountered. However, it must be said that the scientific community is currently lacking hindsight on certain aspects such as tolerance. Indeed, while mRNA theoretically reduces adverse effects, there have never been large studies conducted on this type of vaccine. This lack of hindsight also concerns more specifically certain patients suffering, for example, from cancer or autoimmune disease. Indeed, interferons, or natural proteins made by the body's own cells, can, according to certain hypotheses, aggravate autoimmune diseases in humans.