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What is artificially acquired immunity?

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Artificially acquired immunity is any immunity conferred to the body through non-natural means, by introducing a specially designed version of a whole or part of a pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response, according to UK Health Centre. The body’s defense system can then fight off the infection when it occurs.

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Artificially acquired immunity can be conferred actively, in which the body is intentionally exposed to a foreign antigen in a vaccine; or passively, by introducing pre-formed antibodies into the body to generate a protective immune activity, according to the Open University. The foreign antigen stimulates the body to produce antibodies that remain in the body and attack and destroy the specific antigen when it invades the body. Artificially acquired immunity rapidly fights off infectious agents, usually before the disease symptoms can manifest.

Artificially acquired immunity differs from naturally acquired immunity in that while artificial immunity involves human intervention, natural immunity entails exposure of the body to a pathogenic agent without human intervention, after which the body’s immune system fights the disease-causing agent, according to the UK Health Centre. After successfully protecting against the antigen, the body develops memory of the disease-causing agent, which constitutes naturally acquired immunity. Natural immunity is essential in protecting against the varied range of infectious agents to which the body is exposed.

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