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The human immune system and evolution

Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst



We’re more aware of the immune system now than ever before, both scientifically and personally. The pandemic has caused us to look at how we protect ourselves from the threat of viruses. Global governments advised us to wash hands, maintain social distance and sit in ventilated rooms as well as using innovative solutions such as antivirus screens for our devices. These are all things that we can do to make a difference. But in all of this, the immune system is working away day and night to protect us. In short, it‘s goal is to keep us alive. And we stand a much better chance of that when we’re healthy.

A happy, healthy immune system fights off disease, parasites, bacteria and cancer cells among other invaders. And when we know more about how our immune system works, we’re more able to support it. The long and the short of this article is that the human immune system is incomplete. But that doesn’t mean you have to worry – it can be supported through a range of innovative measures designed to help us.

The Immune System

There are actually two main parts to the immune system.

The first is the innate immunity that we’re born with. It activates on birth and helps us to stay safe. Think of the fact that we have a thick skin that stops invasive things from getting to our internal organs. This is innate immunity. As is the immune cells that attack pathogens and stop them from causing harm. But this is a scattergun approach to immunity. These immune cells can’t distinguish between strains of bacteria or viruses. So, they have a broad method of attacking invaders, treating all as the same. And this means that they can’t destroy all pathogens.

And then we come to acquired immunity or adaptive immunity. This is where the body adapts to a new germ. Initially it doesn’t know how to deal with it – you get sick. But the immune cells ‘remember’ the germ and have a better way of fighting it in the future. It’s like they ‘learn’ how to deal with it.

What Is The Immune System?

Great question. Pretty much the whole body is involved in the immune system. But there are some parts of the system that are more directly involved than others in the fight against disease and infection.

White blood cells (also known as leukocytes) guard the blood and the tissues of the body. If they detect a foreign substance, then they sound the alarm for the immune cells to attack. These immune cells are stored in the bone marrow and other significant sites in the body such as the adenoids and tonsils.

And these leukocytes are divided into two distinct types. Phagocytes, which surround the invader, break them down and consume them. And then the lymphocytes create antibodies and then kill the foreign cells.

So, white blood cells are part of the lymphatic system, which is a set of lymph vessels that gather excess liquids from tissues around the blood, returning them to the bloodstream where it is needed. Lymph nodes filter and trap harmful germs. They are located in your armpits, neck, groin and abdomen. You might find your doctor checking these areas for signs of swelling, which confirms an infection.

How Does The Immune System Activate?

Any item that triggers the immune response is known as an antigen. These can be anything, such as –

  • A virus
  • Microbes
  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • Toxins

Once the body comes into contact with an antigen for the very first time, it stores information on how to fight it, building the acquired immunity we talked about earlier.

And if the antigen has already been inside the body, immune cells will produce antibodies. This could be because you’ve had the disease before or because you’ve been vaccinated. Immunity happens when antibodies attach to an antigen and trigger an immune attack from the rest of the immune system.

Some antigens are adaptive themselves. They mutate and develop new strains. We need a new flu shot every year. And we may be in the same place with COVID vaccinations as new variants arise. This is why using innovative solutions to stop antigens even getting into the body in the first place are hugely important. Here at ACLIV, we’re helping to stop antigens being passed from surface to surface, vastly reducing the risk of passing it between people.

How Can We Help?

Great question. As we have seen, there are some gaps in the immunity our body provides. Of course, if there weren’t these gaps then we would never become ill at all. But we do. Measures to assist humans' incomplete immune systems exist in many ways, such as face masks, sanitary gloves, vegetables, fruits, and disinfectants. We use all of these in our everyday lives to protect against contracting diseases and the like. Innovative companies such as ACLIV are helping us to manage the flaws in our immune system and live ling and fruitful lives.

And For COVID-19?

We’ve seen and read different guidance when it comes to COVID-19 across the world. Some governments proposed ‘herd immunity’ would be the solution. Others foretold that it was little different to the flu.

Vaccinations have become the most effective way to immunise people against the threats posed by COVID. The vaccinations developed around the world are designed to make the antibodies needed to attack COVID should it enter the body. This means that you get immunity without having to get sick first. COVID-19 vaccinations work by introducing a killed or inactive virus to the body, allowing the immune system to develop the antigens needed.

We have witnessed the body going through the full immune process in order to fight off the coronavirus strain that has turned into a global pandemic. Many (too many) people have died, others been extremely ill and the effects of long COVID have been studied across the planet.

The people with the most compromised immune systems were the ones that suffered the most with COVID. The elderly, those with underlying health conditions and those on medication to suppress their immune system were most at risk. And vaccinations have taught their bodies how to fight the virus, saving lives along the way.

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