According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines is “broken down within a few days after vaccination and doesn’t last long in the body”—a position it has adhered to since the pandemic’s beginning, despite research suggesting otherwise (pdf). The CDC refers to mRNA as “messenger RNA,” whereas regulatory documents and Pfizer refer to the mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines as “modified RNA.”
Yet a new study published on Aug. 31 in Proteomics Clinical Applications found spike protein in the biological fluids of people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine six months after vaccination, suggesting mRNA may be integrated or retranscribed in some cells.
The study group included 20 subjects who received two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, 20 who were unvaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19 or antibodies indicating they had previously been infected, and a control group of 20 unvaccinated participants who tested positive for COVID-19.
Researchers then tested to differentiate synthetic spike proteins originating from mRNA vaccines from natural spike proteins in biological fluids, such as blood, urine, saliva, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of study participants and monitored vaccine-induced spike protein following vaccination.
Spike Protein From mRNA Differs from Post-Infection Spike Protein
According to the study, spike proteins originating from the translation of mRNA vaccines differ from natural spike proteins that circulate in biological fluids post-infection because two proline amino acids replaced the amino acids lysine and valine to help stabilize the synthetic spike generated by vaccination. This double amino acid variation removed a tryptic digestion site (a necessary part of protein absorption) on the natural spike protein. Because of this, researchers said it is possible to differentiate between natural and synthetic spike protein in biological fluids using tryptic digestion followed by mass spectrometry analysis.
Utilizing these techniques, researchers detected specific fragments of synthetic spike protein in about 50 percent of subjects who received mRNA vaccines. The synthetic spike protein was detected from 69 to 187 days following vaccination. All samples from the unvaccinated control group were negative, including the 20 individuals who had tested positive after contracting COVID-19.
3 Hypotheses for Persistent Synthetic Spike Protein in Vaccinated
Based on the results of the study, researchers suggested three possible hypotheses to explain why synthetic spike protein persisted in the vaccinated:
- The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines may be integrated or retranscribed in some cells.
- Pseudouridines at a particular sequence position may induce the formation of a spike protein, although the researchers stated this was a remote possibility.
- The mRNA-containing nanoparticles may be picked up by bacteria ordinarily present at the basal level in the blood and produce spike protein.
Although researchers said all three hypotheses need further study, they concluded that their initial observations could aid in an individual’s decision about whether to take boosters.