Dr. Sung Yang Discusses How the COVID-19 Vaccines Are Modern Medical Marvels

Dr. Yang Waikiki Hawaii

March 25, 2021

Dr. Sung Yang

Medical expert Dr. Sung Yang is going to outline some key aspects of the COVID-19 vaccines and what they mean both for the current pandemic and the future of medical research in COVID-19 vaccine.

Already, tens of millions of Americans have received vaccination shots to help protect them against the COVID-19 virus. Experts are now hopeful that the pandemic could be brought under control in the coming months. The FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are marvels of modern medical technology, using mRNA or genetic code of the COVID-19 virus to offer rapid and effective immunity. Dr. Sung Yang is going to shed light on the vaccines.

“I’d say that it’s amazing how quickly researchers were able to develop COVID-19 vaccines but that doesn’t give the researchers and the technologies they used enough credit,” Dr. Sung Yang says. “These vaccines are a testament of how far medical or genetic engineering technologies have come in recent years, and they’re certainly modern marvels too.”

The three FDA vaccines currently being offered in the United States use mRNA. The vaccines contain mRNA blueprints that instruct cells to produce the protein spikes found on the COVID-19 virus. Cells are essentially infected by the vaccine but produce only the protein spikes, not the whole live viruses.

Regardless, the body will identify the protein spikes as foreign invaders and the immune system will destroy them. Later, if a virus shows up during an infection and features the same protein spikes, the immune system will recognize them as invaders and destroy them too.

“The science is complicated,” Dr. Sung Yang admits, “but basically, the vaccines train your body to fight the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine produces the protein spikes but not the whole active virus. This stimulates an immune response. You can think of it as training yourself on a treadmill machine before you run in a marathon race.”

In order to deliver the mRNA and evoke a response, vaccine makers needed to create delivery vehicles. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a lipid particle, which is highly effective at delivering mRNA, but is sensitive to temperature and must be stored at low temperatures.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, on the other hand, uses a harder repurposed adenovirus. This virus is also effective at delivering the mRNA and can be stored in a standard fridge, making it easy to transport and store. However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has shown slightly lower effectiveness at preventing symptomatic COVID-19  illnesses than either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, even though the vaccine prides itself of preventing any death due to or related to COVID-19 infection.

“All three vaccines are equally very effective,” Dr. Sung Yang notes. “Some people don’t want to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it’s not as good at preventing infection.  That said, this vaccine is extremely good or better than Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at preventing hospitalizations and death. If you have a chance to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should do so!  Better yet if you have a chance to get any vaccine, you should do so!”

Dr. Sung Yang Talks About the Future of Vaccine Research and Production

Medical experts are rightly excited about mRNA vaccines. Not only will the vaccines help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but the technology itself could be used to make other vaccines more quickly in the future. In the past, vaccine development often took years.“mRNA vaccines are now an important tool in our medical tool kits,” Dr. Sung Yang says. “In the future, we’ll be able to use these vaccines to respond more quickly to developing outbreaks and contain them into a limited region before they spread to the entire country or even the world.  At the same time, we can use these vaccines to minimize the human suffering, hospitalizations, deaths, and the socioeconomic costs.”