INDIANAPOLIS — Despite what the internet says, mRNA coronavirus vaccines will not change your DNA.
That was one topic Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box tackled Wednesday during Gov. Eric Holcomb's weekly coronavirus update.
Box discussed the science behind mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as those produced by Moderna and Pfizer, and explained why myths surrounding them are not true.
She said the mRNA vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell where the DNA is located. It only goes to the ribosomes in the cell's cytoplasm where it makes a protein that the body sees as foreign. That causes the immune system to get "fired up" and create antibodies.
"So there is no changing of your DNA," Box said. "There's nothing permanently inserted into your cells, and I understand that that's a concern for people, but the science behind that does not support that."
Box debunked another myth that says the number of COVID-19 deaths are no more than the number of people who die each year from influenza.
Around 77,000 people died last year in Indiana, while there are about 65,000 deaths in a typical year, she said.
"And that, pretty much, is right on par with the additional 12,000 deaths that we've had from COVID," Box said. "And the CDC has done the same thing for the U.S. in looking at that.
"So you can go to our website and see past deaths from influenza and they don't come anywhere close to the 12,000-plus deaths that we've seen associated with COVID."