What to expect for side effects

New bivalent covid-19 mRNA enhancers are different yet the same. And the same can be true of the side effects you may experience.

For their bivalent boosters, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna used essentially the same approach and technology that they used for their main line and first two booster vaccines. In all cases, the vaccines consisted primarily of messenger RNA (mRNA for short) packaged in lipid nanoparticles. The mRNA is supposed to serve as the blueprints that your cells use to make copies of the spike proteins that hold the surface of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). These cutting-edge proteins make the Covid-19 coronavirus look like the end of one of those BDSM shenanigans. You know the knives you might keep hidden in your closet when you have unknowing guests.

The only real difference with bivalent enhancers is that they contain two different types of mRNA as opposed to one, hence the word bivalent as opposed to monovalent. One type of mRNA encodes for spike proteins found in the original SARS-CoV-2, the one that first spread around the world in early 2020. The second type of mRNA in the bivalent enhancer encodes a newer spike protein found on the surface of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 that spread throughout much of last summer and early fall.

So it would be reasonable to expect reactions to this bivalent booster that are quite similar to what you got from previous Covid-19 vaccinations. The most common side effects were injection site reactions such as pain, redness and swelling and general body reactions such as fever, chills, headaches, fatigue. muscles and aches, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph nodes. Many of the body’s general reactions may simply be from your immune system responding when it sees the spike protein.

Such symptoms from the vaccine do not mean you have Covid-19. Vaccines alone cannot give you Covid-19 because they do not contain the virus, no matter what your anti-vaccination friendly neighborhood anonymous social media accounts may say. Peak proteins are to Covid-19 what cone bras are to Madonna. You can’t expect a cone bra to sing “Vogue” and perform in concert by itself any more than you can expect spike protein to cause Covid.

As with previous vaccinations, if possible, try to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to help deal with vaccine side effects. Such drugs could end up dampening your immune system’s response to the spike protein a bit, which is not what you want. Of course, pre-medication before the bivalent vaccine with edamame, seaweed salad, gyoza and a spicy tuna roll as Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine did, is a different story:

Of course, there is still the rare possibility that you will have a more severe reaction to divalent enhancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists such possibilities on its website. And they are no different than what came out of the main line or previous boosters. These include severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis as well as inflammation of heart tissue such as myocarditis or pericarditis. Again these remain very rare. But it’s a good idea to pay attention to your body during the 24 to 48 hours after taking the bivalent booster.

Now, Mr. severe reactions, there is a chance that the injection site or general body side effects may be a little more severe this time. This is because your immune system may not have seen the spike proteins BA.4 and BA.5 yet. These spike proteins are different enough from those of the original SARS-CoV-2 that your immune system could essentially say, “WTF is this,” even if you try to tell your immune system, “dude , you’ve seen something like this before.”

It appears that podcaster and editor Michael Hainsworth had side effects earlier with the bivalent booster than with previous vaccinations:

And here’s what Lindsay C. Malloy, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology has to say:

On the other hand, you may experience fewer or less severe side effects this time because your immune system has seen Covid-19 coronavirus proteins increase before. It’s not like 2020 or 2021 when your immune system has never seen proteins like this before and acts like a virgin on a first date. Assuming you’re already fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19, your immune system is more like Tom Cruise’s character in the movie Unorthodox, sporting a ‘been there, seen that’ attitude. By the way, getting as many people as possible to have such an immune system attitude is the way to end the pandemic.

The other possibility is that you get almost the same results with the bivalent amplifier as you did with the main series and previous amplifier or amplifiers. So you might ask yourself, “will my side effects be better or worse this time,” and the answer could be “the same as they’ve always been.”

Of course, I realize that I just indicated that your side effects may be the same, better, or worse, which may seem like every possibility. But the main point is that the bivalent Covid-19 mRNA booster is not that different from the original series and previous boosters. The risk of side effects is not really greater. In fact, if you were a betting man, you can bet your side effects will be less this time around. But at the same time, don’t schedule major life decisions or plans to tweezer your friend’s face a day or two after receiving the Covid-19 bivalent booster. The side effects could still be a bit of a punch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *