The information presented in this article and all articles preceding it is an opinion of one informed medical professional, Dr. Leonard Kaplan. It does not constitute medical advice or prescription. 

My Role

I am not a virology expert and do not provide my own opinion on the spread of coronavirus and its risk of infection. I am a physician who understands how to read research articles and am able to go to the sources of correctly quoted and often misquoted research articles to discern fact from opinion. Using this same access to actual science, I am able to discern fact from fiction that is being spun so aggressively by various social media sources. 

My Goal 

I want to promote rational behavior in regard to the current COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination against the virus.

Why Vaccinate?

In spite of what frequently appears to be one-sided, fear-driven media coverage of the current COVID-19 pandemic and an incredible variety of approaches to its containment by different states, everyone agrees on the following issues:

  1. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on our economy;
  2. It has caused tremendous personal hardship for millions of people;
  3. Infection numbers and rates notwithstanding, people are dying from this virus on a daily basis; and
  4. We all want to get this pandemic behind us as quickly as possible. 

It is my opinion that based on the best current science, the most effective and quickest way to exit from this nightmare is to vaccinate as many people as possible. To understand why this vaccine is safe, I believe it is important to understand how it works and how it was developed. 

The COVID-19 Vaccine

The current COVID-19 vaccine uses modified mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) technology. Two companies, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, encode genetic information via a molecule mRNA, enabling the body to produce a viral antigen (called the “spike protein”) that stimulates a natural immune response. 

What Is mRNA?

mRNA is a genetic code carrier that our cells’ nuclei make on a daily basis to make a multitude of different proteins vital for our body’s function. Typically, our DNA programs the mRNA in the nucleus of each of our cells. mRNA then exits the nucleus and is “read” by a protein-making complex that then produces the specific proteins based on the mRNA’s instructions. 

The Back Story

In the 1990s, a Hungarian scientist named Katalin Karikó had an idea that it may be possible to introduce mRNA made in a lab (modified) into the cell with specific instructions to make proteins against conditions our bodies had a hard time dealing with, such as deadly infections and cancer. However, she ran into a problem of the body recognizing a modified mRNA and destroying it.

In 2005, after partnering with Dr. Drew Weismann, Karikó discovered a way to slightly alter the modified mRNA so that the body did not attack it. Once inside the cell, this mRNA was now able to be read just like the one from the cell’s nucleus, and various healing proteins could now be made on demand.

Because mRNA functions exclusively outside the nucleus where our own genetic material is encoded and stored, there was never any danger of this external mRNA having any effect on the body’s cells themselves. They also found that shortly after the message carried by the modified mRNA was decoded, it would be destroyed by the cell, leaving no permanent mark of its entry

The synthetic mRNA was simply borrowing the cell’s protein-making machinery to make a custom product. In 2009 scientists who would later form the current companies Moderna and Phizer-BioNTech started using this technique in the hopes of finding a cure for various forms of cancer and other hard-to-treat diseases. 

Let’s fast-forward to January 2019. A group of Chinese and American scientists were able to duplicate a protein sequence of the coronavirus spike protein in the lab. The virus uses this spike protein to attach to the human cell and flood it with its own genetic material. Once the code for the sequence was broken, any lab in the world could put it in their computers and create this spike protein from scratch.

Both vaccine companies were able to quickly go to work and create mRNA that would carry the spike protein sequence into the body’s cells, which would then actually make the protein. 

How It Works against COVID-19

Because the spike protein is foreign, once it’s made by our cells, our immune system immediately starts making antibodies against it. Once the antibodies are formed, they are not unlike the national guard, standing by to defend against any attacker that is similar. When a coronavirus enters the body, these antibodies quickly recognize its spike protein and attack the virus before it can cause an infection. 

Some Vaccination Fallacies to Dispel

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it was rapidly developed and tested.

As you can tell from the story behind the vaccine’s development, technology for this vaccine was already studied as early as 2009. Over 43,000 vaccinated people have been studied by Pfizer alone without evidence of any serious side effects

  • There are severe side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Based on our understanding of how mRNA works in the cell, we know there is never any change to the cell itself. In the studies, up to 50 percent of the people vaccinated did develop flu-like symptoms that lasted 2 to 3 days. Severe reactions are extremely rare, and their rates are no different than those from other vaccinations. These reactions can be quickly countered with epinephrine and steroids available at all administration sites

  • More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would actually die from the virus.

You cannot get a COVID-19 infection from the COVID-19 vaccines; they stimulate your body’s natural immune reaction and are not live viruses. It’s important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from COVID-19; it’s about preventing the spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. While no vaccine is 100-percent effective, they are far better for your health than not getting a vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy people.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine was developed to control the general population either through microchip tracking or “nano-transducers” in our brains.

There is no vaccine microchip. As you can tell from the story behind the vaccine development, the mRNA research was ongoing long before COVID-19 was ever a threat. Bill Gates used his position to promote worldwide vaccination and reduction of the spread of viral diseases and suggested that a “digital certificate” could be created for each person to quickly identify those who had been vaccinated and have immunity. Contrary to conspiracy theories, there is no credible evidence that such a program exists and certainly zero evidence that anyone who is vaccinated is being somehow “tracked.

  • COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.

Based on the information provided earlier, it is very clear that this is a physiological impossibility. What’s more, the introduced mRNA is quickly destroyed by the cell once the spike protein is made. 

  • COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or miscarriage.

The body produces antibodies to the spike protein made from the vaccine’s mRNA exactly the same way it would make it to the spike protein on the actual coronavirus. For this myth about the vaccine causing infertility and miscarriages to be true, the body’s response to the coronavirus infection itself would had to have caused thousands of miscarriages during this pandemic, as well as increased cases of infertility. In fact, there have been none reported as a result of a COVID-19 infection, and nothing in the vaccine causes infertility or miscarriage.

 

In summary, I hope this letter lays some fears to rest about the COVID-19 vaccines.  Go get vaccinated, people!

Sincerely,

Dr. Leonard Kaplan