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Will a COVID-19 vaccine offer a greater chance of protection than natural infection? We dig in

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Last updated on – Sep 22, 2020, 11:00 ISTclose01/5Will a COVID-19 vaccine offer a greater chance of protection than natural infection? We dig inAs the world eagerly waits for a COVID-19 vaccine to come into public circulation to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, recent reports of coronavirus reinfection have alerted the health authorities across the globe. After the first two cases of reinfection were confirmed in Hong Kong and Reno, Nevada, there have been looming fears about the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines that are in production. It is important to understand that even as the scientists and medical experts continue to learn more about the novel contagion with every passing day, the data on COVID reinfections is still unclear.readmore02/5Natural infection vs vaccinationThe experts believe that the sparse cases of reinfection could have been the result of patients not developing enough antibodies after contracting the disease. This sheds light on the importance of immunity gained from vaccination when compared to natural immunity after contracting the actual infection. For starters, the risk associated with natural infection may outweigh the immunity it provides, particularly in case of COVID-19 as there is no conclusive evidence that people who recover after contracting the virus get long-term immunity from the virus.readmore03/5​What happens during a normal infectionWhen your body feels that it is under an attack during an infection, it kickstarts its first line of defense against the pathogens, which is known as the innate (non-specific) immune system response. When the innate immune cells detect infection, inflammation is triggered in the body to immediately prevent and stop the movement of the pathogens. The second line of defense is the adaptive immune system, where the body releases the T and B lymphocytes and kills the infected cells. It should be noted that in case of the adaptive immunity, the response is not immediate but its effect is long-lasting and highly specific, due to the T and B cells (also known as memory cells).readmore04/5​How does a vaccine kickstart the immunity in the body?A vaccine works by using killed, inactive or weak parts of the pathogens or germs, known as antigens and trains the body to fight against that particular disease by kickstarting the natural immune response. To put it simply, it provides you immunity without making you sick as the antigens used in the vaccines are very weak or inactive. Secondly, in the case of the vaccine, the dosage of the pathogens are controlled and the medical experts use the smallest amount possible to kickstart the immunity in the body–the same cannot be controlled in case of a natural infection.readmore05/5​Why do we need a vaccine?Additionally, there are certain vaccines which are known to elicit a stronger immune system response when compared to the natural infection itself. These vaccines include Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Tetanus vaccine, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine and Pneumococcal vaccine. It should be noted that certain studies have found that antibodies against the novel coronavirus start waning in some COVID-19 patients in just 3 to 4 months. Hence, a safe and effective vaccine may provide us with a fighting chance to contain the spread of the virus across the globe. readmore
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