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What are mRNA vaccines and how useful will they be?

By Michael le page

An artist’s depiction of a T cell (blue) attacking the new coronavirus

Iliescu Catalin / Alamy

A collective wave of excitement spread across the world as Pfizer and BioNTech announced positive early results from their coronavirus vaccine study last week. Now the biotechnology company Moderna has announced even better results. These are no ordinary vaccines: they could be the first messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines to be approved. If this technology keeps its promise, it could bring tremendous benefits to healthcare, not just fighting the coronavirus.

“Part of the reason Pfizer’s results are so exciting is that nobody has ever shown people …