A group of local physicians was very concerned by the post concerning the COVID-19 vaccine that was published in the Local Jewish News Tuesday morning. We approached Dr. Michael Lederman, who has spent his entire career in the study of virology and immunology and is one of the foremost experts in this area, for his thoughts. They appear, unedited, below. He is Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals/Case Medical Center where he is also Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Pathology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians, the American Association of Immunologists, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and is a Fellow of the American Association of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is editor in chief of the scientific journal Pathogens and Immunity.
A number of local physicians have approached me and asked me what I thought of Dr. Eli Fink’s piece on COVID-19 vaccines in the December 7 Local Jewish News. I took a look at it and sadly, it is loaded with misinformation reflective of a poor understanding of immunity and cell biology. Here’s the scoop: While Dr. Fink is correct that the messenger RNA platform is new for vaccines, messenger RNA doesn’t do anything that he says it does. It doesn’t last long in cells as all messenger RNAs are designed to degrade. It is completely incapable of inserting itself into our own DNA as our cells don’t have the enzymes that are needed to make this happen. Dr. Fink goes on to tell us that viral infections trigger autoimmunity by getting their genes translated into our cells’ DNA. Utter nonsense! Messenger RNAs are not translated into DNA, they are translated into proteins – that’s how these vaccines work!
COVID-19 has killed nearly 300,000 Americans to date and will kill plenty more before this is all over. It’s true that most deaths are among the elderly but even infants have died of COVID-19. These RNA vaccines work, cutting down infection risk and serious disease by 90% or more. Dr Fink says we don’t know yet that these vaccines decrease transmission of the virus. Well maybe he doesn’t know it for sure but based on how these vaccines work, I would wager his life that immunization decreases transmission of the virus. If you choose to believe Dr. Fink’s nonsense, you’ll be wagering your life too!
Michael M. Lederman MD
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Biology, Pathology and Biomedical Ethics
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine