Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine: How do mRNA vaccines work against COVID-19? Check out FAQs

The Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine uses mRNA to provide a blueprint for cells to build the body’s defense against SARS‑CoV‑2. What are mRNA vaccines? Get all your questions about Moderna's vaccine answered here. 

Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine
Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine

The Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Cipla was on June 29, 2021 granted permission by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to import Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use in India. 

Dr. VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog announced during a press meet that the new drug permission has been granted to Moderna, which would be the first internationally developed vaccine in India. He stated that the new drug permission is for restricted use and the vaccine will be administered in two doses. 

Moderna's COVID Vaccine: FAQs

What do you need to know about Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine?

The Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine uses mRNA to provide a blueprint for cells to build the body’s defense against SARS‑CoV‑2. The Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine does not contain SARS‑CoV‑2 or any virus, it just has the blueprint to help fight against it.

What are mRNA vaccines?

The mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that aim to provide protection against infectious diseases. The mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.

How do mRNA Vaccines work against COVID-19?

• The mRNA vaccines relay instructions to our cells to make a harmless spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines are administered in the upper arm muscle. 

• Once the instructions reach the inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece.  After the spike protein is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.

• The cell then displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.

• By the end of the process, our body has learned how to protect itself against future infection. 

Benefit- Those vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.

Is Moderna's mRNA vaccine safe?

• WHO had listed Moderna vaccine for emergency use on April 30, 2021 after assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, which is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply.

• The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had also thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before authorising it for emergency use across the European Union.

• According to US CDC, the vaccine was reportedly highly effective during clinical trials at preventing COVID-19 among people of diverse age, sex, race and ethnicity categories and among people with underlying medical conditions.

• The long-term safety assessment of the vaccine will involve continued follow-up of clinical trial participants, as well as specific studies and continued surveillance of secondary effects or adverse events of those being vaccinated in the rollout.

What is Moderna Vaccine's efficacy?

As per WHO, the Moderna vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of approximately 94.1 percent in protecting against COVID-19, starting 14 days after the first dose.

The US CDC also stated that the Moderna COVID vaccine was found to be 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received two doses and had no evidence of being previously infected.

What can be the possible side effects?

• The CDC noted that reactogenicity symptoms (side effects that happen within 7 days of getting vaccinated) were common after vaccination but were mostly mild to moderate. Only a few people had reactions that affected their ability to do daily activities.

• The most common side effects of the vaccine include pain, redness and swelling in the arm where the shot was administered and besides that fever, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea and muscle pain. 

• These side effects generally appear within a day or two of getting the vaccine. They are normal signs that your body is building protection and should go away within a few days.

Does Moderna's vaccine work against new variants?

As per the current evidence, the new variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the B.1.1.7 and the 501Y.V2, do not alter the effectiveness of the Moderna mRNA vaccine. 

What is the recommended dosage interval?

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses that are given 28 days apart from each other. The recipients are advised to not schedule their vaccine appointment to receive the second dose earlier than the recommended interval. The second dose has to be administered as close to the 28-day interval as possible.

Can Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine be used to vaccinate pregnant women?

WHO recommends the use of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women as it says that the benefits of the vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks. WHO has provided information about the risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy, the likely benefits of vaccination to help pregnant women make this assessment.

WHO does not recommend pregnancy testing prior to vaccination and does not recommend delaying pregnancy or terminating the pregnancy because of vaccination.

Who should not get the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine?

• Individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions to any component of the vaccine should not take this or any other mRNA vaccine.

• While the vaccine is recommended for older people due to the risk of severe COVID-19 infection, very frail older people with an anticipated life expectancy of fewer than 3 months should be individually assessed for vaccination. 

• The vaccine should also not be administered to those below the age of 18 years pending the results of further studies.

• You also should not get the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine if you:

-Had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine

-Had a severe allergic reaction or an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient of the mRNA vaccine such as polyethylene glycol.

Does Moderna's mRNA vaccine prevent infection and transmission?

There is no confirmation on whether the mRNA vaccine will prevent infection and protect against onward transmission. 

While the vaccine provides immunity for several months, the full duration is not yet known. 


Moderna is a biotechnology company founded in 2010. The company is pioneering a class of medicines based on messenger RNA (mRNA).

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