RNA Vaccines

A really good article on RNA Vaccines is provided by creation.com, written by by Robert Carter.

Basically, RNA Vaccines are not to be feared per se, beyond the usual cravats and standard medical guidelines.

I’m bolding the more interesting parts.

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Table of Contents

  1. What are RNA vaccines and how do they work?
  2. How do Moderna and Pfizer make their RNA vaccines?
  3. Could an RNA vaccine alter our DNA?
  4. Pros and cons of the new technology
  5. How is an RNA vaccine different from older vaccine technologies?
  6. Other potential concerns
  7. The Christian’s approach to Operational science

[…snip…]

As Christians, we have a strong desire to help people. As a science advocacy organization, we feel that we should be using our platform to do just that, when the occasion arises. Since we have taken a clear public stand against evolution, we are clearly willing to go against the tide, no matter how strong its pull. People trust us to present the best information and the best arguments for creation, so we ask that you trust us to do the same here.

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I like people who do not kneel on command before the nonsense of Our Betters… and have paid the price for refusing to kneel. When they speak, I’ll pay attention.

Ever wondered why Christian leaders were respected during the times of the Roman Empire? Let me point to St Ambrose as my favourite model of Christian integrity before the face of power…

And when you understand why the Church has such authority back then, you can understand why the church leadership has no public authority of respect today.

In contrast, lay believers with integrity, from medical professionals to skilled craftsmen, get a voice that is heard.

(Actually, even unbelievers with integrity should be heard. But I expect integrity from Christians, as their goal, imitating Christ, is to service, truth, and justice. Rather than the Darwinian imperative for survival, and thus the desire for power above everything else.)

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Due to a massive amount of misunderstanding flying around today, on many different subjects, we feel the need to openly discuss the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in production. We understand this is a passionate subject for some people. From experience, we find that a significant proportion of antivax information does not come from well-informed sources. This is not to say that all of the information is bad, but misleading arguments are constantly doing the rounds. This greatly concerns us, particularly when considering how common such arguments are in Christian circles. Even people who are generally not influenced by conspiratorial thinking have lots of questions about the new vaccines, us included. But we also know that questions and objections can often be answered by simply stating facts that are properly researched. After everything has been considered, people can then make up their own minds as to how they want to act upon the given information. We shall apply a rigorous approach to the question and try to honestly evaluate what was found.

[…]

However, this [vaccine] will still be introducing foreign RNA to the human body. Nobody can say that there is a zero percent probability that the RNA in the transfected cells cannot jump to other somatic cells, in which case this might lead to more serious autoimmune complications. On the other hand, we cannot say with 100% confidence that this will not happen naturally when a person is exposed to any virus in the wild. And, if you think about it, the cycle of introducing RNA into a cell, getting the cell to express foreign proteins, and watching the body’s response to those proteins is actually more natural than older vaccine technologies. Proteins are not being injected into the bloodstream. Instead, the body is more closely following what happens during a normal viral infection, which by necessity happens inside human cells.

[…]

Could an RNA vaccine alter our DNA?

Being that this is a brand-new technology, people have serious concerns about safety. On top of the list are questions about genetic engineering. Is it possible that the vaccine could change our DNA? Repeating some of the information above, here is a list of reasons why the probability is vanishingly small:

  1. Viruses already inject DNA and RNA into our cells. With rare exceptions, this material does not make it into our genome. The HIV virus is notorious for making copies of itself that then get incorporated into our DNA, but they have specific mechanisms and genetic sequences for doing so. The RNA in the new vaccines has none of those features. Even though the wild version of the virus used in the AstraZeneca vaccine can also do this, it is not known to cause any diseases. Even so, the RNA contains but one or two protein-coding genes. This is not enough information to do anything in the cell.
  2. Our cells produce massive amounts of RNA already. This goes from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where it is translated into protein. There is no evidence for widespread re-incorporation of RNA into the human genome. In fact, the whole system would collapse if there were not safeguards preventing this from happening.
  3. The amount of RNA being used is minimal.
  4. Any cell that takes up the foreign protein gene will be killed by the immune system. At least, this is what is supposed to happen and indeed is what does happen in nearly all cases. A person whose body fails to respond in this way is at a high risk of death from any infection, and the RNA vaccine is not an infectious agent. The immune system is exceptionally complex, and we cannot say that every single person will respond in the same way. But if this is a concern, it should be a concern for all viral infections as well.
  5. The arm muscles are far from the gonads. So even if some cells incorporate the RNA (in the form of DNA) into their genomes, it will be difficult to pass this to the next generation. Again, nobody can say it is impossible, but there is little reason for considering it to be probable. Then again, we have sometimes been surprised by biology.

Considering all these points together, as a scientist with a strong background in genetics, I believe the risk of the ‘genetic engineering’ of people is extremely small—thus not sufficient to warrant halting these vaccine trials. We can always be surprised, but everything we do know tells us that the new technology should be safe. And that is an important consideration. Even when acting out of an abundance of caution, we have to make final decisions based on positive knowledge, not the fear of potential unknowns. This is something that applies to daily life. If we cannot make decisions based on what we know, we would be paralyzed with fear and unable to do anything. We could not eat for fear of food poisoning. We could not drive for fear of drunk drivers. Thus, the goal is to study this new idea until every significant concern has been addressed. After that we can proceed, cautiously, while re-assessing every serious concern at each step.

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Observational science for the win!

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