By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

There was an abandoned well in the Ghanaian village I grew up in. The story was that many years ago, a little child fell into and drowned in the well. His body was never recovered.

Fearing the same fate might befall me, my grandparents warned me never to go near it.

The warnings didn’t stop a seven-year-old me from wandering over on a few occasions to that abandoned well and peeking over the short wall that surrounded it. The few times I did it without getting caught, I looked down the depth of that well and…


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

From A. KITTERMAN AND V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine — NVX-CoV2373 — ,ay be the last US-made vaccine to go for approval, but its platform might be the most elegant…if you ask me.

Unlike those on the market already, it is neither RNA nor DNA-based. It is a protein-based vaccine, and that protein is none other than the notorious spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.

Like using mRNA for therapeutics, the idea behind the technique Novavax uses was also rejected by the scientific world for years. This is the original paper by Gale Smith, the Ph.D. behind it (Smith GE et al. …


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

From the NYTimes

The Variant of Concern 202012/01 (VOC-202012/01), also known as Variant Under Investigation in December 2020 (VUI — 202012/01), and Lineage B.1.1.7 is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 that was first detected in Kent County of the UK in September 2020.
In November, public health officials in the UK were stumped as to why cases in Kent county were increasing despite national restrictions. Through genomic studies, they found the new variant to cause a much faster spread of COVID-19.

How did this variant come about?

Through 23 mutations. Seventeen (17) of these mutations led to changes in viral proteins, while six did not. …


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

So what happens once the needle is inserted and the COVID-19 vaccine injected into your deltoid muscle?

The following ia a really simplified account of what happens after one receives the vaccine.

Well, remember, both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are enclosed in lipid nanoparticles. So the particle fuses with the muscle cell.

The trauma of injection and a foreign substance’s presence awakens the inflammatory cells like macrophages, monocytes, mast cells and dendritic cells that hang around waiting for pathogens. …


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

From Yonfei Cai et al. Science. Vol. 369, Issue 6511, pp. 1586–1592

The scientific work that laid the foundation for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines is impressive. There has been a lot of talk about the use of mRNAs, lipid nanoparticles, and viral vectors. However, one notable and vital technology has made it all possible, and unfortunately, it is not getting much press.

It is a story that stars Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and his staff, Jason McLellan, a researcher who was once a postdoc at the NIAID and later moved to Dartmouth and…


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin

One question I hear often from doubters of the COVID-19 vaccine efforts has to do with the flu vaccine:

“How come we do not have a good flu vaccine, but in 9 months, we already have a COVID-19 vaccine?”

Blame the sneakily elusive Influenza A virus.

There are four Influenza virus types — A, B, C, and D. Out of the four types, A and B are the ones that mostly cause disease in humans. The reservoir of these viruses are usually birds, but they have also been isolated from pigs and bats.

Of the two…


By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

There are still a fair number of Americans who do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. There are the incorrigible anti-vaxxers who peddle outlandish claims about GMO organisms, luciferase, and chips. They are honestly beyond redemption. Then are those who harbor real worries that the vaccine was rushed and that there are still unknown side effects that will creep out of the woodwork down the line. These are fair concerns so let’s tackle them:

Were the vaccines rushed?

They were not rushed. Scientists have been working on mRNA therapeutics since the 1990s, and a coronavirus…


A Nana Dadzie Ghansah Story

Dave found them about six months after he came out. He hoped they would still be together, and they were. Dave could not believe his luck when he discovered that the house opposite their’s was empty. He broke in one night and found that he had an unobstructed view of their living room from an upstairs window. When they were home, they spent a lot of time in the living room in front of the TV. He decided to watch them for a while before he made his move. He had waited over 15 years…

Nana Dadzie Ghansah

An anesthesiologist, photographer, writer, and poet. He lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky.

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