In what seems like an inevitable development, scientists Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman have been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their role in developing the mRNA technology underlying the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines which were rolled out in late 2020.
But in a paper published as recently as 2018 and which is extensively quoted in an article at MedPageToday here, none other than Drew Weissman warned that prior clinical trials of mRNA vaccines had produced results which were “more modest in humans than was expected based on animal models…and the side effects were not trivial,” including “moderate and in rare cases severe injection site or systemic reactions.”
Furthermore, Weissman specifically pointed to risks of autoimmune reactions and “pathological thrombus formation” – or blood-clotting – which have become all-too-familiar in the intervening years since vaccine rollout. Thus, summarizing the paper by Weissman and three colleagues in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, MedPageToday continues:
Their chief safety concerns, which they said should be closely watched in future trials, were about local and systemic inflammation, as well as keeping tabs on the “expressed immunogen” and on any auto-reactive antibodies.
“A possible concern could be that some mRNA-based vaccine platforms induce potent type I interferon responses, which have been associated not only with inflammation but also potentially with autoimmunity,” they wrote. “Thus, identification of individuals at an increased risk of autoimmune reactions before mRNA vaccination may allow reasonable precautions to be taken.”
The authors also noted that extracellular RNA could contribute to edema, and cited a study that showed it “promoted blood coagulation and pathological thrombus formation.”
The MedPageToday article is titled “Want to Know More About mRNA Before Your COVID Jab?” How many readers actually went ahead and got it after they knew? At least readers of the MedPageToday article cannot say they lacked informed consent.
But why did so few know otherwise about these concerns? And why did Weissman, who was frankly raising them in 2018, then get on the “safe and effective” bandwagon in 2021, which would take him directly to the Nobel Prize.
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