We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
A neta reportedly said “oxygen” when he actually meant “vaccine”. In normal times this would have passed as a slip of the tongue. But these are very tense times and every word can trigger cruel political ridicule, dangerously widening existing fault-lines. Such attention-shifting diversions are dangerous because we are facing a World War III crisis. We have, therefore, described the nature of vaccines and our campaigns against Covid in simple, down-to-earth. Defence Services’ terms.
We live in a very hostile world. Every breath we take, every step we make, stirs up billions of tiny microbes, fungi, bacteria and viruses eager to enter the warm nutritious cells of our bodies. Our skin is our major triple-layered armour against these attacks. But what happens when a medic pierces the skin, and injects a vaccine into our blood stream?
The vaccine is an intruder. Or, to use security terms, an infiltrator. But though it carries the identity of a terrorist, it is a very weak one, deliberately debilitated by the serum manufacturers. The defensive system of the body, however, recognises it as a foreigner and does a quick assessment of its threat perception. This includes scrolling through its own memory banks to discover if a similar threat had ever occurred earlier. It then rings all its alarm bells to deploy its large, and very varied, Defence Forces.
They come from many locations in the body. From the lymphatic system, with a network resembling that of our blood vessels, to our Spleen, Thymus, and the marrow in our bones, our Defenders stream out, heading for the Conflict Zone where our body’s security has been breached. This deployment takes time to become effective after the vaccine has entered the body.
Meanwhile, our body’s equivalent of the ITBP and the BSF have already sprung into action. Using the highways of the bloodstream, and the dedicated Defence & Evacuation Network of the Lymphatic system, our First Response Forces are already confronting the enemy. The body’s Forces are fierce and unbound by international conventions! In fact, one of these First Response defenders literally eats up intruders!
The effect of these internal first encounters appear on the body as sneezes, running noses, tears, coughs, sore throats, swellings and increasing warmth at the areas of conflict. All these are the body’s attempts to get rid of the intruders and their casualties.
Now the main forces of the body move in. The Whistleblowers set off by the vaccine have given the mainline fighters of the body a clear picture of who the enemy is. The main forces launch an all-out, no-holds-barred attack on the major invading force.
The range and variety of the Defence Forces of our bodies is mind-boggling. These include some which are so specialised that they target only one, specific, type of intruder. It is as if our Armed Forces had groups of commandos trained to neutralise only green-eyed, black-haired, left-handed terrorists who stutter!
Moreover, whenever the body’s Immune Systems encounter an intruder, their Intel Units make a detailed Identity Profile of it. They also retain a template of how it had been neutralised. So, the next time it threatens the body, it’s easy to launch an effective counter-attack!
Clearly, this is a very intricate and extremely multi-layered system. And while self-correcting bio-programmes have been built in by the body’s immune system, nothing is 100% fool proof. There are, in fact, diseases which specifically attack the immune system. A well-known, and terrifying, one is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome more commonly known as AIDS. But the general rule is that a healthy body, regardless of its age, is a great infection fighter. Regular exercise helps in the circulation of that superb immunity-enhancing stream, the lymph. That wonderful white liquid is the body’s silent Sanitation Workers doing their essential duties effectively and anonymously.
In writing this piece we have, deliberately, avoided using technical terms like Leucocytes, Phagocytes, Monocytes, Macrophages, Immunoglobulins, Antibodies, Lymphocytes or even Mast Cells. Technicians use specialist terms because they save a lot of explanatory words and also because they are not likely to change their meaning as a living language evolves. In our lifetime, the meaning of the word gay has morphed.
So has the word Whistleblower!
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other
National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who is a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)