By Dr. William Prats

The immune system protects us from the infection, with a wide variety of pathogens. Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, PhD explains that when a person is infected with viruses, we engage multiple different layers of defense systems. Sort of like an orchestra and different types of effectors are associated with the immune response, it’s almost like different instruments.  According to Dr. Rusian Medzhiton, PhD. Sterling Professor of immunobiology, investigator, at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Explains what vaccines do basically mimic viral infection, that is they provide the blueprint for the immune system. So it can react quickly and efficiently, preventing us from getting sick. Dr. Iwasaki states it’s like a sheet music for the orchestra. We are telling the immune system what to do and how to do it; in order, to trigger, a response that’s almost equivalent to having had an infection. But actually can be even superior to that. Vaccines train the immune system to respond in specific ways to an attacker. Dr. Medzhiton states, in the case of coronavirus, it is the simplest type of response that just prevents the virus from entering our cells, and these tend to be extremely safe. All you need is to induce protective response that is based on proteins that the immune system makes, which are called antibodies, and they consequently binds to the virus and prevent it from entering our cells. Normally vaccine development takes years to decades. From inception to implementation. However, because of this pandemic, every step is being expedited. According to Dr. Rusian, there are several trails that are performed. Before vaccine can be used to make sure the vaccine is safe; and that it provides protection, that is that is effective. Dr. Iwasaki bring to our attention, it is akin to the rehearsal phase of that orquestra; before opening up to the public.  It is really important, because during that rehearsal stage, you might find an instrument that is missing, or that is not working, or a practice that is needed in this area versus that area. And that can be all tweaked within the phase three trial. Even with rigorous testing, not everyone will be able to get vaccinated. Some people cannot get vaccinated because they have, for example, some underlying illness or defects in the immune system, or they may be too old or too young. Those people may be vulnerable to infection, because they cannot be protected by vaccination  themselves. But they can be protected by healthy people who are immune.  Therefore, they prevent the spread of the virus. It is called herd immunity. We need to ultimately have herd immunity to stop the spread of the virus and it is really important to remember that before a vaccine is approved, it undergoes rigorous amount of testing for safety and efficacy.  So once a vaccine is made to be publicly available, we should be lining up to get those vaccines.

 

Reference:

Yale School Of Medicine.     (Covid.yale.edu) 

 

Glossary:

Antibody: a blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood.

Immune system:  protects us from the infection, with a wide variety of pathogens.

Coronavirus:  any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological diseases in humans and other animals.

Herd immunity:  to prevent the spread of the virus.

Epidemic:  An outbreak of a disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time.

Pandemic:  An epidemic outbreak of a disease that has spread over several countries or continents affecting a large group of people.

Virus:  Non-cellular, submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism

Vaccine:  is – a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.

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