A Little Bit About the Immune System

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

A few weeks ago, I discussed immunity and how long antibodies hang around for different infections.

Actually, I was going to take a week or three off from discussing viruses, but I just read an article recently published in the Atlantic that I had to share.

In ‘Immunology is where intuition goes to die,’ Ed Yong discusses just how complex the immune system, but like all good articles, he starts with a joke:

An immunologist and a cardiologist are kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to shoot one of them but promise to spare whoever has made the greater contribution to humanity. The cardiologist says, “Well, I’ve identified drugs that have saved the lives of millions of people.” Impressed, the kidnappers turn to the immunologist. “What have you done?” they ask. The immunologist says, “The thing is, the immune system is very complicated …” And the cardiologist says, “Just shoot me now.”

But the truth is the immune system is extremely complicated, and there is much we don’t know.

Just a few take homes from the article:

  • What is immunity? From a scientific standpoint, it means that your body has encountered a virus or bacteria – either as the actual pathogen or as a manufactured vaccine – and the body has responded by producing antibodies or mobilizing the immune system in some other way.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are impervious to infection, unfortunately.  It just means that you have defenses.  How long those defenses last for COVID is still unknown.

 

  • Immunity is a spectrum – not absolute and everyone’s response can be different. One of the most important questions in many people’s minds right now is this: “Why do some people become really ill when infected with COVID, and why do others don’t?”

It’s all food for thought, and the article goes on to describe the workings of the immune system.  It’s a pretty short, light read, so if you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check it out.

 

Stay safe and I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

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