TURNING POINT: When the Protector Becomes the Enemy

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 29 April) – In fighting foreign invaders – bacteria and virus – the immune system throws everything in its arsenal to defeat the enemy. In respiratory infection, it blows fire (fever) and causes inflammation specifically in the lungs, where the enemy are encamped and subsequently floods it (with mucous). Heat weakens some pathogens. The mucous cools the inflamed lungs and may trap and expel some invaders. Finally, the immune cells engulf and digest the host lung cells where, in viral infection, the virus is replicating. Prolonged inflammation and excessive mucous secretion and the killing of many infected cells weaken the lungs. Thus, the more the virus there are in the lungs, the greater the damage the immune system can inflect on said organ. The damage can at times be so severe as to entirely disable the lungs.

That’s the tragic irony. But the situation can be avoided naturally and artificially.

An early detection of the enemy and waging the battle early on minimizes “self-inflected” damage from friendly fire. An acquired immunity or introduced immunity – vaccine – can give that advantage.

The immune cells or antibodies with past encounter with the enemy, recognizes and engages the enemy early on, thus, avoiding serious friendly fire and collateral damage. The vaccine, on the other hand, introduces to the body a weaker version of the enemy to train the antibodies early detection or recognition of the enemy and engages them battle early on before they can multiply and, thus, precludes heavy collateral damage.

When the battle is fought late or if the immune system is weak, the infected person has a reduced chance of survival.

On the other hand, if the immune system of a person becomes over aggressive or when it runs wild it can destroy the person himself. Such is the plight of those suffering from lupus and multiple sclerosis. The protector becomes the enemy.

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This brings us to a similar tragic story of a police officer, which in his aggressiveness to protect us from the virus, killed unnecessarily one of those he was supposed to protect. Like our antibodies, our police needs re-training in such way that they will not become our enemy.

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Sunlight disinfects us from the virus in our immediate surroundings. But it cannot disable the virus inside us. At the right time and exposure though, it gives us Vitamin D, which is a boost to our immune system against lung infection. But an overexposure to sunlight is bad to our health.

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Disinfectants are our munition against disease-causing microbes outside our body. To use it inside us by injection or ingestion will poison and kill us together with the virus. Damn the suicidal promotion of the panic-crazed president of the world’s epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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