I am going to deal with this in a separate post, because nothing frustrates me more than having people spread scientific misinformation. I am going to approach this from both a common sense and a scientific perspective. I am going to address it once and not again, because I am not going to give people a platform to spread misinformation. And I am going to start by saying, if you don’t want to get vaccinated, don’t get vaccinated. But don’t do it because you buy into some bullshit conspiracy theory, or your risk assessment ability about the harms and benefits of vaccines is the same as that of the healthy 30 year-olds who spent the last year cowering in their basements because there is a one in a million chance that they might get infected and die.
I have mentioned this before. I am co-founder of a company that manages cell and gene therapy for payers. To do that you have to know something about the workings of DNA and genes. For 30 years of my investing life I have been involved with life sciences companies that do sequencing and work in genomics. So I have a good sense of what is possible and what isn’t. If I thought an mRNA vaccine could change my DNA do you believe I would take it?
First the common sense, which for most of us is easily overridden by bias and fear. Gene sequencing is incredibly cheap and incredibly fast now. There are hundreds if not thousands of institutions capable of sequencing DNA. Do you really think that if the vaccines were changing human DNA no one would have taken one of the tens and hundreds of millions of people who have received an mRNA vaccine and sequenced their DNA to demonstrate exactly where and what the change was? Especially when there are scientists who are skeptical about vaccines. It would be very simple and if it were happening, we would have heard about it now. Second, those same techniques permit very rapid sequencing of the vaccine. Anyone can get a vial of the vaccine and sequence it and understand exactly how it works. Do you also really believe that among those thousands and thousands of researchers capable of doing this none of them would have identified the exact mechanism by which the vaccine supposedly could generate entrance into the nucleus and modify DNA? And that that work would be replicated by others, and again, it would ultimately be shown to actually have happened in one single human being? And finally, we literally have given hundreds of millions of people who have received mRNA vaccines. You are walking around everyday seeing them, including me. Do you actually believe that if their DNA was being modified, it wouldn’t have some pernicious effect and people wouldn’t be falling sick all around us? For God’s sake use your brains and your common sense. The vaccines have side effects, some serious but very rare, but modifying your DNA isn’t one of them.
Now for the science, which I have to simplify because the processes are just incredibly complex. Let me start by saying that it is obvious that intentionally changing DNA is incredibly difficult. For decades companies have spent billions of dollars trying to figure out how to do that, with very limited success. Why is that (and why would you possibly believe that despite all this difficulty the mRNA vaccine scientists miraculously figured out a way to do it)? Because our DNA is the most critical aspect of our biology and we have evolved a complex set of mechanisms to prevent our DNA from being modified except by a very controlled set of DNA repair mechanisms. DNA resides in the nucleus of the cell. The nucleus is surrounded by a nuclear membrane, whose main function is to segregate and protect DNA. It has pores that very carefully control what goes in and out of the nucleus. Proteins are made outside the nucleus, in the cytoplasm, in organelles called ribosome complexes. (Okay, another level of complexity, the ribosomes themselves are made in the nucleus and exported, so there is some protein-making machinery in the nucleus, but it serves limited purposes. The vast majority of the working proteins for bodily functions are made in the cytoplasm.) mRNA, whether transcribed from the DNA in the nucleus or introduced into the cell by the mRNA vaccines, finds the ribosomes and directs them to make the proteins encoded by the mRNA. The vaccines tell the ribosomes to make all or some of the spike protein for CV-19. Those proteins are then displayed on the cell surface where the immune system recognizes them as foreign and deploys defenses to destroy the proteins and generates “memory” cells to recognize the invader if it appears again. Once the mRNA has done its job of putting the ribosome to work, it is degraded.
To modify the DNA in the nucleus by changing a gene so that when it is transcribed into mRNA it creates a different sequence which subsequently makes different proteins is just ridiculously hard. (The fact that it is so hard is why people focus on just hijacking the ribosomes in the cytoplasm instead.) The therapeutic benefits of being able to do this have been recognized for a very long time and many, many techniques have been attempted. You have to be able to get into the cell, then make your way to the nuclear membrane without degradation, then convince a nuclear pore to let you in, then find the right spot on the incredibly long and complex DNA molecule, then be able to attach yourself to the DNA molecule and finally have some way to either modify the sequence of proteins in the DNA or snip out the sequence and replace it with the sequence you want there. This process is so difficult, that a lot of “gene” therapies don’t work by actually changing DNA, but more like the mRNA vaccines, by simply hijacking the ribosomes and telling them to make good versions of a functional protein that the person’s DNA currently makes in a bad form. The gene therapy for SMA works in this manner.
There are viruses, called retroviruses, of which HIV is a notable example, that are capable of generating and using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to turn their RNA into DNA and then use other enzymes called integrases to get thru the nuclear membrane and become “integrated” into DNA. Those are truly scary viruses. They aren’t changing the sequence of existing DNA; they are added as an additional element or integrated into it. CV is not a retrovirus and does not have these capabilities; it does not create reverse transcriptase or integrase. Scientists who speculate “well maybe it could figure out how to create or use reverse transcriptase or an integrase” are doing just that, speculating. There is no in vivo, that is in the body, demonstration that either coronavirus or mRNA vaccines against coronavirus have this capability. Again, there is no sequencing that has demonstrated that this has happened to a single human genome. And getting through the nuclear membrane is a very difficult process involving escort or chaperone proteins that are filtered by the pores. Being able to create this capability is simply extremely difficult. It can be done, but rarely without serious potential side effects, which is why it is taking so long to develop true gene therapies. At one level, when you read and study these processes you are simply amazed by the complexity, by the checks and balances, the feedback mechanisms.
So, no, I don’t believe at all that the mRNA vaccines have been intentionally given the capability to create or modify DNA that would be integrated into the host DNA and I don’t think there is anyway that they could functionally do that inside a cell, given their makeup. And I am not going to spend more time trying to debunk an obviously BS theory about the mRNA vaccines are bad. As I said, make up any excuse you want for not getting vaccinated, or if your physician tells you there is a real health reason why you should avoid them, don’t get vaccinated. I don’t care and I don’t think people should be forced to get vaccinated. On the other hand, I do care that we stop living like hermits and that we return to caring about people’s mental and physical health holistically, and getting vaccinated is one way to help bring that about.