What is immunity?
Immunity is the defense system of our body, which protects us from infection. Simply put, it is the power of the body on which it fights with those things which the body considers as external (antigen) and when it reaches the body, it tries to destroy it. There are two types of immunity in the body – one which is already in the body and the other which the body acquires. This inherent immunity is present in our body from birth and the second one is acquired due to external stimuli. When the corona virus enters the body, our body recognizes it as an antigen. Our immune system fights against it and it also takes into account the structure of this virus so that if it attacks for the second time, it can get immunity against it and against antigens of similar structure. The person in whom the immune system is not so capable, their body has a weaker ability to fight disease than the person whose body’s immune system is better.
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Who are these people with immune system weakness?
A person with immune system weakness is one whose immune system is unable to fight an effective fight against the antigen. People who are deficient in nutrition (mostly people from the socio-economically low ranks who are malnourished) or people who have AIDS due to HIV infection, TB patients, people with diabetes not under control Those who have COPD due to smoking bidi-cigarettes, who have cancer, and who are taking medications to suppress immunity during cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or who have had an organ transplant.
Can these people get more infected?
Yes, since their body’s immune system’s response against antigens is very weak, they are more prone to infections like corona.
Do they need to get vaccinated?
Yes, because those whose body’s immune system is weak are more at risk of getting covid, so they must take the vaccine.
Is the vaccine equally effective in both people with weak and strong immune systems?
Vaccines are antigens that have the same structure as a virus but have a different internal structure. This means that it is a virus that does not have the power to cause disease. It strengthens the immune system so that it can produce natural antibodies against this virus that cannot cause disease, but in a person who has a weak immune system, this power is reduced and hence the person with more immunity in his body. In comparison, less immunity will be produced.
Is there any test that can detect the status of immunity in the body after infection and vaccination?
Yes, laboratory tests are available to track infection and post-vaccination immunity status in the body.
How to know if the antibodies detected in the test are sufficient?
Tests are available for this, but we do not yet know how many antibodies we will need to protect the body next time and whether it will be able to protect our body from different types of viruses.
Are people who do not detect antibodies in their blood more prone to infection?
The presence and absence of antibodies in the body does not guarantee protection against further infection. A person who has a high amount of antibodies in his body can also get an infection and it may also happen that the person who does not have any antibodies in his body may not get any infection. As of now there is no test available about this so nothing can be said with certainty.
Then what is the benefit of getting the vaccine?
The vaccine is given so that a large number of people can be saved from getting infected or even if someone does get the infection, it is very mild. There is a high chance that those who have been vaccinated may survive the infection, compared to those who have not.
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Who should get the vaccine, who has a strong immune system or a weak one?
Everyone should be vaccinated, regardless of their immunity status. The higher the number of people taking the vaccine, the lower the risk of getting infected by people with weakened immunity. The higher the number of people who will be vaccinated whose body’s immune system is weak, the less people will die from infection. Whether or not antibodies are made in the body after vaccination, every person should take the vaccine. The higher the number of people vaccinated, the lower the risk of infection with Kovid.
-Dr. Niket Rai is MBBS & MD and affiliated to Maulana Azad Medical College and Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi.