We have entered a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the numbers of infected keep rising, the economic realities of the lockdown have pushed more people to step out of their homes to work. Safety precautions have been advised and people are required to wear basic protective gear, like masks and gloves.
But the irony of the novel Coronavirus is that these measures are not enough to provide complete protection. The virus’ tenacity means we are likely to come in contact with it on surfaces contaminated by it, or through asymptomatic carriers, who are infected but don’t show the symptoms. Therefore, there’s a great risk of infection to those resuming normal life.
Since there’s no vaccine against Covid-19, our only hope to avoid infection are own immune responses. Our body, after all, is well equipped by nature to block progression of infections inside. These responses work in stages, right from the moment the virus enters the body. In case of Covid-19, which enters the body through the mouth, nose and the eyes, the first line of defence offers the body’s best chance to repel this disease, before it goes deeper and causes more damage.
To understand the role of these primary defences against Covid-19 and other such infections, host Radhika Sinha recently spoke to Dr. Sulaiman Ladhani, a Consulting Chest Physician at Wockhardt Hospitals and Prince Aly Khan Hospital, on a special health feature called ‘Science Of Immunity’.
During the interview, the Doctor explained how these primary immune responses to infection are influenced by the health of the individual, their age and prevalence of other ailments. But though the force of immune responses may vary, the Doctor categorically stated the one thing that’s uniform across them is the pivotal role played by the saliva is providing the first layer of protection.
The saliva contains lysozymes, which are a special brand of anti-viral proteins. Lysozymes are designed to detect and kill these intruders in your body. In effect, the greater the concentration of lysozymes in saliva, the better the chances of a person combating infections that enter the system. According to the Doctor, lysozyme concentration, and with it the fighting properties of saliva, can be enhanced by improving our overall immunity.
To do this, the Doctor recommends following the prescribed safety protocols and taking supplements that reinforce the body’s internal health system. A part of this is also taking steps to increase the lysozyme count in our saliva, so that even if an infection like Covid-19 were to make it inside, it won’t go far.
These are important health lessons, for a post lockdown world. Listen into the interview below for a clearer understanding of the body and its immune responses.