Antibodies, Vaccines and Herd Immunity

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Germs are all around us. Both in our surroundings and bodies. This fact has become quite evident with the widespread effects of the pandemic.

When a person is exposed to such harmful germs and organisms, it can cause illness and even be fatal. However, the human body has a natural mechanism that provides a defense against pathogens.

For example, skin, hair, mucus, and cilia all work as physical barriers to prevent these germs from entering the body in the first place. Yet, sometimes they manage to escape these barriers and attack the human body. This triggers the immune system to defend against these germs and attack them to protect the human body from these pathogens.

  • Body’s natural response:

A pathogen can be viruses, germs, fungus, parasites, and bacteria that cause illness. Each pathogen is made up of various subparts, which is unique for every other pathogen. These different pathogens cause different diseases. The subpart of a pathogen that assists the formation of antibodies is called an antigen. The antibodies formed in response to antigens are the essential parts of the immune system that offer resistance and protection against diseases and pathogens.

This is the reason antibodies are called the soldiers of the body. These antibodies are responsible for recognizing the antigens of the pathogens. The human body consists of thousands of antibodies. When the human body is exposed to a disease for the first time, the immune system takes time to recognize, respond, and produce antibodies against the antigens. Unfortunately, this delay in the immune system’s response throws the human body vulnerable and susceptible to disease during this period.

Once the antibodies are produced, it is only a matter of time that the immune system gets triggered and destroys the pathogen from infecting. Antibodies are unique to different pathogens. Antibodies for one specific pathogen don’t protect against another pathogen except in the case of similar pathogens. Antibody-producing memory cells are also produced along with antibodies so that if the pathogen is destroyed once, the immune system remembers the pathogen in the case it re-attacks.

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  • How do vaccines help?

The immune system cannot always respond quickly, or the pathogen might be complex for the immune system to respond to. In such a case, vaccines act as rescuers.

Most vaccines contain weakened or inactive parts of antigens that trigger the immune system to respond to the disease. While few vaccines contain antigens, few others have just blueprints containing antigens.

 No matter the vaccines are made up of antigens or blueprints, the body will respond to the antigen. That is why vaccines have become the only feasible solution against COVID.

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  • What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity is a community or large section of people growing immunity or antibodies against pathogens. Herd immunity can be natural or can be built with vaccinations.

During the initial stages of COVID, large sections of people have advocated for herd immunity. But for herd immunity to be attained, huge compromises must be made considering the rate at which the virus was infecting and intensifying. Hence, vaccination has become inevitable.

But vaccines cannot be administered to everyone, especially to people with a compromised immune system. In such cases, at least the healthy mass can be vaccinated, and the virus or pathogen can be prevented from circulating, thereby reducing the growth.

  • History of Vaccines

Humans have successfully developed vaccines for several diseases throughout history, which has helped the current world get rid of them—some of these diseases include measles, mumps, rubella, and tetanus.

In addition, the Poliovirus, which has paralyzed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1900s has been effectively controlled in the 1950s with vaccines against this disease.

Unfortunately, vaccination, even in the 21st century, has not reached every corner of the world. Nevertheless, most vaccinations have successfully eliminated the pathogens causing harm to humanity, and hence, the same is being anticipated for the COVID vaccine.

If you are skeptical about the vaccination today, do your bit of research or consult your doctor. This will help you allay all your fears. A vaccine is the only weapon against the COVID virus now. As a responsible citizen and for the sake of your safety, getting vaccinated is essential.

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