WASHINGTON, July 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The American BioDefense Institute (ABI) has released, "Passive Immunity: The Next Generation of a Pandemic Response," a timely and informative report that defines the important role of passive immunization in a world where there's a continued reluctance of some people to get vaccinated.
The report, written by Ravi Starzl, Ph.D., and ABI executive director, offers detailed explanations about active and passive immunization, the need for a firebreak to stop the spread of disease, and the hesitancy of more people wanting to take vaccines.
"While vaccines represent our best defense against infectious diseases," Starzl says, "there is still a need for a 'firebreak' – a set of measures designed to delay the spread of a disease long enough to allow for vaccine development. … Passive immunization tools can be used to treat the disease, as well as to provide the population in the affected areas with transient immunity to halt the spread of the disease and extinguish the outbreak at the source."
The report explains how immunization is a process of fortifying an individual's immune system against an agent, typically disease-causing pathogen or a toxin. When the immune system is exposed to foreign molecules, this will trigger an immune response. Starzl says active immunization is the concept of exposing the body to a foreign agent in a controlled manner to artificially activate the immune system and impart the ability of a quick response to a subsequent encounter due to immunological memory.
Active immunization, the report explains, gives the body the ability to produce antibodies to counter the pathogen or a toxin on its own. The most common technique of active immunization is vaccination, a process of introducing a microorganism or a virus in a weakened, live or killed state, or proteins or toxins from that microorganism, triggering the body's adaptive immunity.
Passive immunization, the report says, is a process of introducing antibodies into the body directly, rather than imparting on the body the ability to produce them. This still imparts immunity, however, because this immunity is not caused by the body's immune system, it will only last as long as the introduced antibodies as present in the organism.
Immunization by the administration of antibodies is a very efficient way of obtaining immediate, short-lived protection against infection or the disease-causing effects of toxins from microbial pathogens or other sources. Passive immunization provides immunity regardless of the body's own response to infection, making it a viable option for these cases, too.