If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Periodic Graphics

Periodic Graphics: How are RNA vaccines made?

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning outlines how companies make these COVID-19 vaccines

by Andy Brunning, special to C&EN
January 3, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 1


Support nonprofit science journalism
C&EN has made this story and all of its coverage of the coronavirus epidemic freely available during the outbreak to keep the public informed. To support us:
Donate Join Subscribe

An infographic shows how RNA-based vaccines are made.

To download a pdf of this article, visit

References used to create this graphic:

Boo, Sung Ho, and Yoon Ki Kim. “The Emerging Role of RNA Modifications in the Regulation of mRNA Stability.” Exp. Mol. Med. (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s12276-020-0407-z.

Pardi, Norbert, Michael J. Hogan, Rebecca S. Pelc, Hiromi Muramatsu, Hanne Andersen, Christina R. DeMaso, Kimberly A. Dowd, et al. “Zika Virus Protection by a Single Low-Dose Nucleoside-Modified mRNA Vaccination.” Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nature21428.

Smith, Jesse. “Decoding Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine Ingredients.” Medium Coronavirus Blog, Medium, Dec. 4, 2020. .

Steinle, Heidrun, Andreas Behring, Christian Schlensak, Hans Peter Wendel, and Meltem Avci‐Adali. “Concise Review: Application of In Vitro Transcribed Messenger RNA for Cellular Engineering and Reprogramming: Progress and Challenges.” Stem Cells (2016). DOI:10.1002/stem.2402.

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.