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Atlantic writer says synthetic mRNA is 'not new technology'

Derek Thompson, a staff writer for The Atlantic, responded to hesitancy from some to receive the coronavirus vaccines developed using mRNA technology, calling it “an extraordinary scientific success story” that has been in development for decades. 

In an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Thompson outlined the specifics of mRNA, which was used in the development of the coronavirus vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. 

“mRNA is essentially a recipe book for proteins and proteins basically tell our cells to do everything that there is for cells to do,” Thompson explained.  “In this case, there’s a very specific protein that’s on the surface of the coronavirus called the ‘spike protein.’” 

Thompson said the mRNAs “order spike proteins for our cells to make, our immune system recognizes those spike proteins, learns how to fight them, so when they do confront the actual coronavirus with its spike proteins, then the immune system knows exactly how to combat this disease.” 

While some people may be hesitant to trust this technology, which was not used in the development of Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation, Thompson said the research surrounding mRNA “has been gestating for about 40 years.” 

“The first investigations into synthetic mRNA technology were in the 1970s,” he explained. “This is a vaccine that I think in many ways is an extraordinary scientific success story that really epitomizes the beauty and importance of basic research that can sometimes for decades seem to not work and then all of a sudden burst into view and save… thousands and thousands of lives all over the world. 

Watch part of Thompson’s interview above.