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What is Vaccine

Let's understand what is a vaccine and what are the different approaches that are used in the development of a vaccine. See, a vaccine is essentially a biological preparation, which provides us with immunity against certain types of infectious diseases that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, etc. A vaccine provides us this immunity by training our immune system to identify the infection and fight the infection. Since this immunity is not naturally present in humans, and since it is acquired through vaccines, this immunity is referred to as active acquired. immunity. Because the vaccine is training our immune system to acquire this immunity. See whenever a foreign pathogen enters our body, generally, the immune system recognizes it as a threat. And this activates the immune system to produce antibodies, which fight against the foreign pathogen. Generally, this is how our immune system protects us against infectious diseases. But there might be a few bacterias and viruses, which may not be recognized by our immune system. Maybe our immune system has never been exposed to them. The best example of this would be SARS Coronavirus two. Since it is a novel Coronavirus or a new Coronavirus, it is not being recognized as a threat by our immune system. Hence, the immune system is not getting triggered, no antibodies are being produced and hence we are not able to fight against this infection. So this is where a vaccine comes in, it can train our immune system to identify the new pathogen as a threat and produce the required antibodies. So, essentially, the vaccine is providing us with active acquired immunity. This acquired immunity can be of two types, it can be either temporary or it can be permanent. If the acquired immunity is temporary, then the body can fight the infection only once, and hence, frequent dosages would be needed to fight the infection in the future. But if the acquired immunity is permanent, then it helps prevent reinfection because our immune system would have been trained to fight the infection at any point in time in the future. Whether the acquired immunity is temporary or permanent, is determined by the biological agent which is used in the vaccine. See, generally, most vaccines are developed by using the disease-causing microorganism itself. For example, in the case of COVID- 19, the disease-causing organism that is SARS Coronavirus-2 itself would be used to develop the vaccine. But such a vaccine will not make us sick, because the microorganism which has been used would have been inactivated or weakened by using chemicals, heat or radiation. The idea behind such vaccines is to expose our immune system to these weakened pathogens so that our immune system starts recognizing them as a threat and starts producing the required antibodies. So essentially, the objective is to train our immune system. For example, if you look at the polio vaccine, it contains the poliovirus itself. But the virus would have been weakened or inactivated to ensure that the vaccine doesn't infect the person. So when our immune system is exposed to such weakened versions of bacterias and virus It says, it starts learning to identify them as a threat, and it starts producing the required antibodies. So when the immune system is taught by using the microorganism itself or a part of it, it starts to recognize it as a threat, and it starts to fight against the pathogen. So, such acquired immunity is of a permanent nature. So, once you're vaccinated for polio, your body can fight the infection throughout your life. Similarly, the toxins produced by your pathogen can be isolated, and it can be used as an agent in the development of vaccine or we can use the surface protein of the pathogen or genetic material, such as mRNA of the pathogen, and they can be used as an agent in the development of a vaccine. So vaccines developed by using such live agents will provide us with permanent immunity. But to extract such active agents, first, you need to isolate bacterial strain or the virus stream, in the case of SARS Coronavirus-2 the Indian Council of medical research has successfully isolated the strain and the process of vaccine development has already begun.
But the entire process of development production clinical trials would be taking at least two more years. Then another approach to developing vaccines is to use the antibodies itself. Such vaccines are known as antibody-based vaccines. Instead of using a life microorganism or a part of it, the antibodies which can fight against this microorganism are directly injected into the body and this provides us with temporary immunity to fight against the disease. But since the acquired immunity is temporary in nature, you would require frequent dosages for it to remain effective against the pathogen.


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