What is immunity?
Immunity is our body’s defense system, which protects us from infection. Simply put, it is the power of the body on the basis of which against the things the body perceives as external (antigens) and when it reaches the body, it tries to destroy them. There are two types of immunity in the body – one that is already present in the body and the other that is acquired by the body. This inherent immunity is present in our body from birth and the second is acquired due to external stimuli. When the corona virus enters the body, our body recognizes it as an antigen. Our immune system fights it and also takes into account the structure of this virus so that if it attacks a second time, it can gain immunity against it and against antigens with a similar structure. People whose immune system is not so strong, the body has a weaker ability to fight disease than people whose immune system is better.
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Who are these people with weak immune systems?
A person with a weakened immune system is a person whose immune system is unable to fight off antigens effectively. People who are malnourished (mostly people from low socioeconomic groups who are malnourished) or people who have AIDS due to HIV infection, people with tuberculosis, people with uncontrolled diabetes Who have COPD from smoking bidi-cigarettes, who have cancer, and who use drugs to suppress immunity during cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or who have had an organ transplant.
Could these people be more infected?
Yes, because their immune system response to antigens is very weak, they are more susceptible to infections such as corona.
Do they need to be vaccinated?
Yes, because those with weak immune systems are more at risk of getting COVID, so they have to take the vaccine.
Are vaccines equally effective in people with weak and strong immune systems?
Vaccines are antigens that have the same structure as viruses 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 which cannot cause disease, but in people whose immune system is weak this strength is reduced and hence people who have more immunity in their body. will be produced.
Is there a test that can detect the immune status in the body after infection and vaccination?
Yes, laboratory tests are available to track infection and post-vaccination immune status in the body.
How to know whether the antibodies detected in the test are sufficient?
Tests are available for this, but we don’t yet know how many antibodies we will need to protect the body next time and whether they will be able to protect our bodies against various types of viruses.
Are people who do not detect antibodies in their blood more susceptible to infection?
The presence or 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 can also happen that a person who does not have antibodies in his body will not get an infection. As of now there is no test available on this so nothing can be said for sure.
So what are the benefits of getting the vaccine?
Vaccines are given so that large numbers of people can be saved from infection or even if someone does get an infection, it is very mild. There is a high chance that those who have been vaccinated will survive the infection, compared to those who have not.
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Who should get the vaccine, who has a strong or weak immune system?
Everyone should be vaccinated, regardless of their immune status. The higher the number of people taking the vaccine, the lower the risk of being infected by people with weakened immunity. The higher the number of people to be vaccinated whose immune systems are weak, the fewer people who will die from the infection. Whether or not antibodies are made in the body after vaccination, everyone should take the vaccine. The higher the number of people vaccinated, the lower the risk of getting infected with COVID-19.
-Dr. Niket Rai is MBBS & MD and affiliated with Maulana Azad Medical College and Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi.