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As we stand in 2020, probably the most important thing a human need is a ‘strong immune system’. A favourable immune system is essential for our survival in this COVID-19 period. Without a vital immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from viruses, parasites and more. It is our immune system that keeps us healthy as we roam through a town of viruses.

The immunity is the potential of our bodies to overcome a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells. This vast network of cells and tissues is constantly on the lookout for invaders, and once an enemy is spotted, a solid attack is fixed by them, Thus our immune system works as our own army of soldiers to protect our body from the invaders. If the immune system encounters a virus, for instance, infection or parasite, it elevates an immune response. Once an antibody has been produced, a copy remains in the body so that if the same virus appears again, it can be dealt with more quickly. For instance, A disease like chickenpox. We only get it once as the body has a chickenpox antibody stored already and waiting to destroy it next time it arrives.

Everyone’s immune system is different but, as a general rule, it becomes stronger during adultness as, by this time, we have been uncovered to more viruses and developed more immunity. That is why teens and adults tend to get sick less often than children.

Most of the youth in our country think that the Indian immune system is very strong and thus all Indians will survive COVID-19 infection better. If this were indeed true, Indians would be the healthiest people in the world, with a life expectancy surpassing those from other nations. In fact, ‘World Health Organization’ published a report in 2018 which gave India Life Expectancy ranking of 125 in the world. The ‘Influenza Pandemic’ of 1918 hit India hardest out of the countries of the world, with between 5-10% of Indians dying from it. Both of these means that Indians might be more likely to have negative outcomes when exposed to the novel coronavirus. For a virus that our bodies have not seen before, such as the novel coronavirus, it doesn’t seem likely that there should be an element of immunity that might protect Indians but not others. This is perhaps the reason, why most of the deaths that have occurred in the cases of COVID-19 included people who were either old or had some sort of constant illness.

The appearance of COVID-19 has finally directed us to realize the value of having a strong immunity, as it has been indicated that if a person’s immune system is strong, this lethal virus will not be able to harm the individual easily. Our immune system is the most important line of defence of our body against various disease-causing germs. It is programmed to notice and defend us from several types of threats. We are all born with some level of basic immunity to invaders, which is called as Innate Immunity. If the virus manages to dodge the innate immune system, adaptive immunity takes the charge. As we are exposed to diseases or get vaccinated, we build up a library of antibodies to different infections.

But the most crucial immunity is the Passive immunity, it is “borrowed” from another source, but it does not last for a longer time period. For instance, a baby receives antibodies from mother before birth and in breast milk following birth. It insulates the baby from some infections during the early years of their life. A person can also get passive immunity through antibody-containing blood products such as ‘Immune Globulin’, which may be given when primary protection from a certain disease is needed. But to increase overall immunity, one should get sufficient sleep with a healthy diet and reasonable exercise. Staying hydrated and managing stress levels also increases the immunity in a certain way because till the time a vaccine is developed against Covid-19, it’s the responsibility of our immune system to tackle this pandemic.

One very valuable lesson that COVID-19 has taught us is that we cannot rely too much on our healthcare systems. While modern science has come a long way, there are still abundant of diseases that we don’t have the slightest idea about, and the only precaution that we can take against these viruses is to enhance our immune system as much as possible.