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 Andrew Engelson
In an online press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 5, Governor Jay Inslee said that while there were encouraging signs in statewide numbers, “the current level of [COVID-19] activity, remains, unfortunately, very aggressive,” he said.
“We are not where we want to be today.”
Continue reading Governor Lays out Regional Plan for Some Businesses to Reopen, But COVID-19 Activity Still “Aggressive”
by Andrew Engelson
The day after Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was extending the state’s current COVID-19 restrictions by one week until Jan. 11, officials from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said during an online press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 30 that they are cautiously optimistic about statewide infection trends and that vaccinations for high-risk health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities are ongoing.
“We are in a very precarious position,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. “This is the highest rate of cases in Washington State since the beginning [of the pandemic]. But we’re starting to see this downward trend. It’s all very encouraging.” Lindquist noted that while the results are still preliminary, the number of positive tests across the state have plateaued slightly in the past week. He also noted that post-Christmas hospitalization rates are down slightly, saying “I’m optimistic but cautious.”
Continue reading State Health Officials Cautiously Optimistic as COVID-19 Rates Hold Steady and Vaccination of Health Care Workers Continues