Aug 24 · Last update 3 mo. ago.

Does the world need to try DNA vaccines?

India has given the go-ahead for the emergency production of a DNA vaccine, Zydus Cadila’s COVID-19 vaccine, or ZyCoV-D, which uses genetic material from the virus to trigger protein production and an immune response to COVID-19, but the technology differs from the other vaccines currently in use. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology, using a genetic blueprint message for making proteins that do not interact with the body's genetic code. Likewise DNA vaccines use a single strand of mRNA that codes for a pathogen's protein, but also use another single strand of genetic material to form a double strand of DNA which is then encapsulated inside a plasmid as a vector to carry the genetic material inside the body's cells and generate an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. However understanding of genetics and biochemistry in the global population remains low, and distrust and vaccine skepticism remains a significant issue in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the benefits and risks of DNA vaccines? Do we need them to deal with COVID-19? Or is it soon for yet more novel technologies?
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Too soon

Public messaging is the real problem of this pandemic and yet another novel vaccine technology will only complicate this issue, not help solve it. At this time when global vaccine uptake is still so low and so many countries are fighting a public information war to try and encourage vaccination, the introduction of another controversial vaccination technology that has never previously been used on humans is just bad optics. This move has the potential to create an even bigger anti-vaccine backlash and drive conspiracy theories. RNA vaccines were controversially rushed through and are still not fully approved by the FDA in the US, science needs to slow down and education need to improve if moves like this are not going to just lead to further significant public backlash. Before experimenting with new technology why not try to improve the bad public health messaging that has arguably played the biggest role in complicating the COVID pandemic, turning it into the public health disaster it has become.

edition.cnn.com/2020/07/16/health/coronavirus-pandemic-communication-intl/index.html sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200410162410.htm edition.cnn.com/interactive/2021/health/global-covid-vaccinations reuters.com/article/factcheck-covid-vaccines-idUSL1N2M70MW

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