In short Read article

mRNA-vaccines for COVID-19


A viral outbreak that results in a pandemic requires rapid vaccine development. Messenger-RNA (mRNA) vaccines are prepared using a new technology that is based partly on genetic techniques. After the genome of a new virus has been sequenced, this method makes it possible to quickly produce an effective vaccine. By now, two mRNA vaccines have been granted preliminary market authorisation and are available to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The short development time and rapid production of mRNA vaccines are major advantages in an outbreak and pandemic. 
  • The first two mRNA vaccines effectively reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, and their adverse effects are mild. 
  • One disadvantage is the need to store these two vaccines at very low temperatures.
  • Many questions remain unanswered, such as whether there are long-term adverse effects, whether inoculated persons remain infectious, how long the protective effect lasts, their efficacy after a single injection, whether the various vaccines are interchangeable, their suitability for specific target groups, and how effective they are against mutations of SARS-CoV-2.

  1. Rauch S, Jasny E, Schmidt KE, Petsch B. New Vaccine Technologies to Combat Outbreak Situations. Front Immunol. 2018 Sep 19;9:1963. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01963.
  2. European Medicines Agency. EMA starts rolling review of CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine (CVnCoV).  Nieuwsbericht 12 februari 2021. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/ema-starts-rolling-review-curevacs-covid-19-vaccine-cvncov. Accessed 14-02-2021
  3. Europese Commissie. Hoe worden vaccins ontwikkeld, goedgekeurd en op de markt gebracht? December 2020. Factsheet. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans/how-are-vaccines-developed-authorised-and-put-market_nl#voorwaardelijke-handelsvergunning. Accessed 12-02-2021
  4. European Medicines Agency. Productinformatie Comirnaty®. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/product-information/comirnaty-epar-product-information_en.pdf. Accessed 11-02-2021
  5. European Medicines Agency. Productinfo COVID 19 vaccine Moderna suspension for injection.  Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/product-information/covid-19-vaccine-moderna-epar-product-information_en.pdf. Accessed 12-02-2021
  6. Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Kitchin N, Absalon J, Gurtman A, Lockhart S, et al; C4591001 Clinical Trial Group. Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 31;383(27):2603-2615. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2034577.
  7. Stolk LM. Bijwerkingen van vaccins signaleren. Gebu. 2021;55(1):5-7.
  8. Baden LR, El Sahly HM, Essink B, Kotloff K, Frey S, Novak R, et al; COVE Study Group. Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2021 Feb 4;384(5):403-416. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2035389. Epub 2020 Dec 30
  9. European Medicines Agency. COVID-19 vaccines: key facts. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/overview/public-health-threats/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/treatments-vaccines/covid-19-vaccines-key-facts. Accessed 13-02-2021
  10. Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW, Weissman D. mRNA vaccines - a new era in vaccinology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Apr;17(4):261-279. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2017.243. 
  11. Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Weissman D. Recent advances in mRNA vaccine technology. Curr Opin Immunol. 2020 Aug;65:14-20. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2020.01.008.
  12. Karikó K, Muramatsu H, Welsh FA, Ludwig J, Kato H, Akira S,et al. Incorporation of pseudouridine into mRNA yields superior nonimmunogenic vector with increased translational capacity and biological stability. Mol Ther. 2008 Nov;16(11):1833-40. doi: 10.1038/mt.2008.200.
  13. Karikó K, Muramatsu H, Ludwig J, Weissman D. Generating the optimal mRNA for therapy: HPLC purification eliminates immune activation and improves translation of nucleoside-modified, protein-encoding mRNA. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Nov;39(21):e142. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr695.
  14. Kowalski PS, Rudra A, Miao L, Anderson DG. Delivering the Messenger: Advances in Technologies for Therapeutic mRNA Delivery. Mol Ther. 2019 Apr 10;27(4):710-728. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2019.02.012.

Authors

  • Leo M.L. Stolk, dr