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The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that Canadians are receiving could be just the first in a new wave of vaccination against many diseases — driven by the novel technology used to make the shots, researchers say. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which differ from regular vaccines in terms of how they help your body build immunity against a pathogen. Scientists hope that this new approach could lead to the rapid discovery of many new vaccines. mRNA vaccines are essentially a blueprint for your cells, instructing them to make a specific protein that’s found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. When your cells make that protein, your immune system gets trained to recognize it, building antibodies that will help you fight off COVID-19 should you ever encounter the real deal. “That’s a very efficient way of introducing the immune system to this protein, to the spike protein, so that when one comes in contact with the real virus, one already has a good immune response — both a T-cell response and an antibody response — to fight it off and prevent infection,” said Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology .

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