Know your immune response post vaccination

Know your immune response post vaccination
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Know your immune response post vaccination

Highlights

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to fight a disease. On exposure to a foreign body like bacteria or a virus, the body develops what is called the IgM antibodies.

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to fight a disease. On exposure to a foreign body like bacteria or a virus, the body develops what is called the IgM antibodies. These are the first antibodies the body makes when it fights a new infection, are short term and may not be detectable after a few weeks of an infection. It is then followed by IgG antibodies, which provide a longer lasting immune protection. IgA also plays a crucial role in the immune defence of mucosal surfaces such as nasophryanx, lower respiratory tracts, etc., the first point of entry of SARS-CoV-2.

If we aim to bring the pandemic under control, we need to employ measures that go beyond social distancing and wearing a mask. These measures need to be supplemented by a strong vaccination programme. The Covid-19 vaccines help us develop immunity against the virus and its variants. They stimulate the immune system to create antibodies that fight the virus, thus preventing serious illness and death.

One way to be sure of our immune response and to determine if one has developed antibodies, is through a reliable IgG quantitative antibody test. This test measures the level of IgG antibodies developed by the individual. As IgG antibodies last longer in the body, they are detectable for a longer duration of time and are more accurate.

A positive IgG antibody test would mean that the person was either previously infected by or was vaccinated for Covid-19 (3). A higher number of antibodies indicate a greater number of neutralising antibodies. Neutralising antibodies are a different class of antibodies that prevent the interaction of virus and the host, thereby preventing the infection. Excellent correlation has been seen with IgG and neutralising antibodies. Although developing antibodies does not guarantee we will not contract Covid-19, it does help us understand our individual vulnerabilities and subsequently helps us to be better prepared.

Choosing the right test is essential as some antibody tests will only detect antibodies from infection, not from Covid-19 vaccination. Antibody tests should generally not be used to diagnose a current infection of Covid-19. An antibody test may not show if you have a current infection as it can take days to weeks after the infection for your body to make antibodies.

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