Inactivated vaccine primarily relies on proteins to elicit immune responses. My question is, does inactivated COVID vaccine also contain mRNA that could be actively transcribed into new proteins in human body, similar to those mRNA vaccine?

To my knowledge, the mRNA in mRNA vaccine is slightly modified such that it can be transcribed. Without those modifications, can mRNA in inactivated vaccines still be transcribed? If the answer is yes, then, is the concentration of active mRNA high enough that the transcription activities can be detected?


1 Answer 1


Short answer: no. Basically all the inactivated vaccines use cross-linking agents that will cross-link or damage the RNA (e.g. aldehydes, Beta-propriolactone or ethylene imine) through a chemical reaction. Many of these sorts of vaccines are then formed into subunit vaccines which undergo extensive purification to get the antigenic protein of interest.

A reasonable reference for this is (also the second link above):

Iris Delrue, Dieter Verzele, Annemieke Madder & Hans J Nauwynck (2012) Inactivated virus vaccines from chemistry to prophylaxis: merits, risks and challenges, Expert Review of Vaccines, 11:6, 695-719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1586/erv.12.38


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