6 Things You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients
Updated: Apr 18, 2021
Do you want to know what the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccines are? And do you wonder why scientists say that their content isn’t dangerous to the human body? Then keep on reading and check out the 6 things you should know about the ingredients of COVID-19 vaccines!
Here, we’ll focus on the vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech (mRNA-based) and AstraZeneca/ Oxford (adenovirus-based) to have a closer look at what’s in the vaccine mix.
1 - The ingredient that will protect you from getting COVID-19 is harmless to your body
The ingredient giving you the necessary protection of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines is either a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule packed into a lipid nanoparticle (soap bubble-like transfer system) or a chimpanzee adenovirus (this is a non-pathogenic virus, which means it cannot make humans sick). Both molecules contain the code, or recipe, carrying the instructions to make a protein (known as the spike protein) located on the surface of the virus. These molecules aren’t dangerous and aren’t capable of integrating into the human genome! Why? Firstly, for the Pfizer vaccine, the mRNA is never in physical contact with the human genome and will be destroyed by the human cell machines once it has done its job. Secondly, for the AstraZeneca vaccine, the adenovirus DNA form enters the storage place of the human genome, but it is unable to amplify. This means that no additional adenovirus copies are produced; this is also known as replication-deficient. Thereby, both ingredients are preparing your immune system to fight the real coronavirus and will leave your body again when the job is done. That’s a win-win situation!
2 - The vaccines do not contain a dangerous virus, so cannot give you COVID-19
You can’t get COVID-19 from these vaccines! Why not? Because the mRNA molecule is only carrying the information for the spike protein and does not contain the instructions to build the entire virus, SARS-CoV-2. Also, the chimpanzee adenovirus can’t give you COVID-19 because it is an entirely different virus. It’s not dangerous to the human body because it simply has no code or recipe to cause disease. Moreover, this adenovirus is a weak virus that can’t reproduce itself! Your body still recognizes it as foreign, and this is why you can get side-effects such as fever for 1-2 days, but it just shows that you can trust your immune system! It’s working like a border control that is checking all the foreigners coming into your body, pressing alarm at slightest observations and calming down once the threat has been removed.
3 - The vaccines are fatty, but you won’t get fat from them!
Now, what else is in these vaccines? The mRNA vaccines also contain lipids that form a “fatty” layer, or shell, to protect the mRNA and help it to enter human cells. These lipids would only be harmful if injected or eaten in large quantities. You’ll definitely consume more unhealthy fats when having a single French fry, even if they are home-made!
4 - The vaccines contain basic table sugar and salt
Yes, one of the ingredients is sucrose (basic table sugar). It helps the molecules of the vaccine to maintain their shape during freezing. Additionally, the vaccines contain salt for further stabilization of the mRNA or adenovirus molecules important for storage and injection. However, the quantities of these substances in the vaccine injections are too low to have a harmful effect on the human body! Now, your doctor advised you to reduce your sugar and salt intake? No, problem! Your daily meals (I hope you’re eating!) contain way higher amounts of sugar and salt than these vaccines. You’re diabetic and wondering if you should inject insulin to compensate for the sugar content of these vaccines? No! Please don’t do that because you won’t detect a change in your blood sugar levels!
5 - The AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine contains 3 more ingredients compared to the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine
The adenovirus vaccines contain three more ingredients, which are amino acid, emulsifier, and alcohol. The amino acid is a left-over product from the manufacturing process, and it exists naturally in the human body as we need amino acids for our bodies to function properly. So, it’s just some extra amino acid in a low quantity that most likely doesn’t make a difference! Did you wonder if the emulsifier and the alcohol will do harm to your body? These quantities aren’t large enough to be harmful to your body, and you’ll have a much higher intake of these substances by eating processed foods while having a drink! And even if you eat “clean” and never drink alcohol your body still won’t be affected by the low quantity of the emulsifier and alcohol contained in this vaccine!
6 - The main content is water
Last but not least, the main content of these vaccines is water. This is sterilized water and only dangerous to the human body when consumed in very large quantities in a very short time frame! You might ask yourself why there is water in these vaccines? It’s a by-product of the manufacturing process and important for injection. Now, try to take a syringe or drinking straw, suck up very dry powder like flour and inject it into your teddy bear. Got the picture? That’s why there is water to facilitate the storage and injection of vaccine content. The injection volume is ranging from 0.3 mL to 0.5 mL and very likely not registered by your body that contains up to 60% of water. You’ll consume more water when drinking an Italian espresso!
Without a doubt, the vaccine content is beneficial and will prepare your immune system to fight the coronavirus. The additional fat, sugar, emulsifier, alcohol, and water contained in these vaccines that are present are in very low amounts making no difference to your body. If you drink a huge amount of water in the range of several liters within a few minutes then this can potentially kill you. Contrarily, if you stop drinking water then you’ll die within a week or two. Remember, the quantity makes the poison!
Contributed by Julia Brinkmeier
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Pfizer vaccine – Fact sheet for recipients and care givers”
Hack and Sack, Meridian Health. “A Simple Breakdown of the Ingredients in the COVID Vaccines”
Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. “Information for UK recipients on COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca”
Institute for Vaccine Safety. “Excipients in Vaccines per 0.5 mL dose.”
mRNA vaccines – a new era in vaccinology by Norbert Pardi, Michael J. Hogan, Frederick W. Porter and Drew Weissman in Nature Reviews (2018)
Development of novel vaccine vectors: Chimpanzee adenoviral vectors by Jingao Guo, Moumita Mondal and Dongming Zhou in HUMAN VACCINES & IMMUNOTHERAPEUTICS (2018)
Covid-19 vaccine – BioNTech/Pfizer product information
Covid-19 vaccine – Moderna product information
Covid-19 vaccine – AstraZeneca product information