by Kevin Schofield
This week’s “long read” is an article in the journal Nature, looking at the long and complicated path leading to the mRNA vaccine technology and techniques used to create the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines against COVID-19.
“Messenger RNA,” or mRNA, is essentially a recipe for building proteins. Living cells use it as a way of passing notes around: Parts of our DNA are transcribed into mRNA, which is then read by the tiny factories in our cells that produce proteins.
Technically, a virus isn’t alive: It’s just a string of genetic material surrounded by a coating of fat (what biologists call “lipids”) with some proteins on the surface that help it to gain access into our cells (such as the COVID-19 “spike protein”). Once a virus invades our cells, its DNA is also transcribed into mRNA that contains the blueprint for the virus, and then our own cells do all the hard work to churn out thousands of virus copies.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: mRNA Vaccines
by Carolyn Bick
Washington State has avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases, but the state — particularly its hospital system — isn’t in the clear yet.
In a press conference on Dec. 16, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy shared graphs from the DOH’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard that show case counts and hospitalizations, including ICU bed occupancy, are levelling off. The Emerald has shared these graphs below. But the trends aren’t yet level, and the state must go beyond just flattening the curve, DOH Health Sec. Dr. John Wiesman said.
Continue reading State Avoids Post-Holiday Surge, Won’t Share Personal Information With Federal Government in Vaccination Plan
by Carolyn Bick
Aside from starting to cancel non-emergent surgeries and other procedures, there doesn’t appear to be much else healthcare professionals can do to make way for what many see as an inevitable surge in COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations, following Thanksgiving and the December holidays.
Continue reading COVID-19 Vaccine May Come Available Soon, But Not Before Hospitals Will Have to Start Implementing Surge Plans