Learning about Vaccines

Vincent Racaniello. Virology Lectures 2021 #19 – Vaccines, 2021. https://youtu.be/O55R09egthg.

Yesterday a friend asked me a number of questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, as he has not yet choosen to get vaccinated and is worried about side-effects. Although I disagree with putting off vaccination, at least he is learning as much as he can so he can make the right choice. However, as I repeated from a quote I have heard others say, ‘Don’t be afraid of the side effects of the vaccine, be afraid of COVID-19’ that you might get if you don’t get the vaccine.

It so happens that Vincent Racaniello at Columbia University has an excellent lecture from his Virology course on vaccines,2 in which he talks about SARS CoV2 (COVID-19) vaccines, both approved and in development (from 54:46 min into the lecture). The entire lecture is worth your time to learn more about they types of vaccines being developed as he explains each type in detail. Elsewhere I have recommended this entire Virology Course.2

Above is the key slide from this1 lecture (source: The Milken Institute) showing the status of SARS-CoV2 virus vaccines that are in development. Each of the vaccine categories are described in this lecture.

One point that Racaniello wants to clarify is that these vaccines do not protect against infection, but they should reduce transmission, and they are only effective if they reduce disease. Furthermore, he clearly considers any hesitancy regarding use of vaccines as unjustified, and he explains why he has this opinion with several examples throughout the lecture.

Racaniello is particularly intrigued by the opportunity demonstrated by the novel and exceptionally effective use of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and his hopeful that the power of the latest virus genome engineering techniques will lead to powerful attenuated virus vaccines that will be even more effective. He also mentions his excitement about the development of vaccines that could be less susceptible to the effects of mutant variants of the spike protein.

I highly recommend that you listen to the entire lecture.


  1. Vincent Racaniello. Virology Lectures 2021 #19 – Vaccines, 2021. https://youtu.be/O55R09egthg.
  2. T.P.Caruso. “Learning about Virology,” April 1, 2021. https://tpcaruso.com/2021/03/31/learning-about-virology/.

Author: T.P. Caruso

Retired from a healthcare and biomedical research career and now enjoying connections with anyone interested in history, geneology, healthcare, leadership or consciousness.

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