Science Is Cool
As 2021 begins, I believe that we are all looking forward to a promising new year with hopes of putting the past behind us. Undoubtedly, we have all been affected in some way in our personal and/or professional lives by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Typically, when we talk about how we should progress in our profession, the words artistry and technology have been the standard. Without swaying, for me, the artistic value of our work remains key; as such, I would continue to stress the importance of that element, knowing that it must nevertheless complement and meet the demands of advancing technology. Advancements in science and technology, perhaps now more than ever, are second to none with increased knowledge in developing new materials and products, as well as the shifting and placement of teeth.
At the start of 2021, advancements made in science will ultimately be what allow us to move forward. As I wrote this, more than 40 million doses of a vaccine were being shipped all over our country; as most of you are reading this, that number should be surpassing 100 million. Although the first vaccines have been documented as far back as the 18th century, when English physician Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine, the evolution of both the actual concept and distribution of vaccines has evolved dramatically. Vaccines generally work by imitating possible infections, which are placed in the body in small amounts, causing the body to produce the necessary antibodies to fight the disease. During this process, the body is left with a supply of memory that helps it fight off the disease for a period of time, or in some cases permanently.1
Although this topic is beyond the scope of my own professional expertise, I am blown away by the progress being made with these new vaccines, as the first two work in a different way from traditional vaccines. They do not inject an imitation virus into our bodies; rather, they use messenger RΝΑ (mRNA, a genetic material that our cells read to make proteins). After injection, the vaccine particles bump into cells and fuse to them, releasing mRNA. The cells' molecules read the sequences and build spike proteins. The mRNA from the vaccine is eventually destroyed by the cell, leaving no permanent trace.2
As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "Science is cool." I am, as always, completely in awe of the tireless work and efforts of the men and women responsible for this work. Science has been the foundation for our health in the past and will hopefully be our saving grace for 2021 and the years to come. Be patient and fight; 2021 will be a better year.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT
1. Understanding How Vaccines Work. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf. Updated July 2018. Accessed December 14, 2020.
2. Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdfhttps://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-understand-color-office.pdf. Updated November 23, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2020.