Immunity 3 MIN READ 264 VIEWS March 23, 2022

Difference Between Natural Immunity and Artificial Immunity

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Natural Immunity

Immunity is a complex and highly detailed aspect of Biology. It involves both the natural immunity our bodies produce as well as the ways in which medicine can aid this natural system. Typically, this help comes in the form of artificial immunity and medicines to fight the symptoms of a disease. Interestingly, most of our advances in the science of immunisation come from understanding how the natural immune system works in the first place. Without getting lost in highly scientific terms and concepts, we will explain in simple words what the differences between natural and artificial immunity are. 

Understanding Adaptive Immunity 

Adaptive immunity is a specialised side of your immune system. It is much more targeted. In fact, it can identify and attack viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens with extreme precision. It takes a little longer to do its job since it involves the use of a wide range of cell types. This type of immunity is further divided into artificial and natural immune systems:

1. Natural Immunity

Natural Active Immunity: It is your body’s highly complex immune system that locates, identifies and destroys pathogens and toxins. This system involves cells that find bacteria or viruses, T and B cells that destroy these cells and memory cells that remember the invader. 

Natural Passive Immunity: It is when natural protection is received from outside the body. The antibodies are essentially produced by someone else. The primary example of natural passive immunity is during pregnancy, helpful antibodies are transferred to the foetus through the placenta. This benefits the baby until the child can start producing its own antibodies. A similar transfer of helpful immune cells happens during breastfeeding from a mother to child.

2. Artificial Immunity

Artificial Active Immunity: It occurs when we are exposed to a pathogen so that our body can develop a defence against it. This is the primary concept behind vaccinations. A dead or weakened form of a bacteria or virus is introduced into the body (usually through injection), this form of the germ is not able to make us sick. But it does train the body to recognise and fight that infection in case it ever actually infects you in the future. Although this type of immunity system can last for your entire lifetime, some vaccinations work for shorter durations only.

Artificial Passive Immunity: It is when the antibodies required to kill an infection are introduced directly into the body. Usually, this happens through an injection of antibodies such as a gamma globulin transfer. These antibodies are produced outside the body, typically in another human or animal. This type of immunity is short-lived but effective. 

Importance of Natural and Artificial Immunity

As you can see, the difference between natural and artificial immunity is obvious. But both types are useful and effective in their own way. Imagine artificial immunity techniques like vaccinations and antibody transfers did not exist. In that case, the only way we would be able to fight against all infections would be if we kept getting these infections across our lifetime. But there is no guarantee we would be able to effectively fight against them on our own. 

On the flip side, our immune system is robust and resilient. It is one of the most complex natural systems that we know about. In fact, artificial immunity works together with the natural systems and uses it to provide you with better protection. 

Conclusion

Now that you have a basic understanding of immunity, hopefully, you’ve come away with a sense of awe. Science and medicine work hard to complement our natural immune system. And on top of that, our default natural immunity itself is working as hard (or harder!) to keep ourselves protected. So, the next time you feel fever, be grateful. Know that it’s your body raising the temperature to kill the invaders, apart from doing a dozen other things to cure you.

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