“With an RNA vaccine, it’s very easy to switch,” says Drew Weissman, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania whose early research helped make mRNA vaccines possible. The vaccines contain the genetic instructions for cells in the body to make the spike protein, the part of the virus that invades human cells, helping trigger an immune response so the body is ready to respond if it encounters the actual virus. (Other vaccines, like the one from Johnson & Johnson that is likely to be approved soon, would also be fairly simple to update, though the process would take a few more steps—and thus more time—than the new shots that use mRNA.) … [Read more...] about How easy will it be to update the COVID vaccine if the virus mutates too much?
E. coli outbreak in 2018 that killed five people and hospitalized nearly 100, the CDC traced the strain of the bacteria back to the lettuce-growing region near Yuma, Arizona, but couldn’t link it to a single farm, processor, or distributor. In a second outbreak the same year that left a healthy toddler legally blind and unable to speak or move and dozens of other sick, it took a month for the government to link the illnesses to romaine. When they did, they didn’t know the specific source, so they simply told Americans to throw away any romaine lettuce, sending truckloads of food to landfills. Another month later, they linked it to a farm, but they finally concluded that it may have come from multiple farms. … [Read more...] about These invisible, edible biological tags help track down the cause of E. coli outbreaks