As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect millions worldwide, the development of the Pfizer vaccine has restored hope in the promise of a safe and healthy future.

However, not everyone is convinced of this promise. 

Kelly Grindrod, an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, recently sat down with Kitchener Today to debunk misconceptions about the vaccine.

Many believe the mRNA-based vaccine can change the genetic makeup of the body, which Grindrod concluded is “not accurate in any way”.

“It’s kind of like a post-it note for your body,” Grindrod explained. “It’s a little bit of code for a little bit of protein on COVID – it’s not COVID, it’s a piece of COVID called the spike protein (…) your body makes it, learns how to recognize the spike protein then throws the mRNA out…”

Another common cause of hesitation was the distrust in vaccine ingredients. 

People confused the ingredient polyethylene glycol (PEG), which acts to protect the mRNA spike protein in the vaccine, with ethylene glycol, another substance found commonly in antifreeze products.

“mRNA is very fragile,” Grindrod said. “The PEG helps to construct that fatty protective bubble – almost like a little life jacket.” 

She also commented on the rapid pace of vaccine development.

“In this pandemic, there’s unprecedented money spent – they managed to cut out inefficiencies – the waiting between stages,” Grindrod explained. “This is how it should work. This is [an] incredible process in an important amount of time.”

Clinical trials have shown great success rates so far, but now the question remains of its long-term effectiveness. 

“In healthcare, what we’re really interested to know is how long this vaccine lasts for – we want to know… will you need a booster in a year? In five years? What about variants?” Grindrod said.

Grindrod believes this vaccine to be a “science success” and that “this is probably the most reliable way we have out of this pandemic right now.”


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