Are we paying a post-Covid immune debt?

Abstract: The notion of immune debt is contested. To see this clearly, let’s use the principle of hormesis: the organism becomes more adaptive when it is subjected to unusual situations, as long as its overall integrity is not threatened by extreme deviations. Applied to immunity, this principle indicates that cutting ourselves off from our usual microbial interactions makes the organism less adaptive and therefore more vulnerable. Conversely, flirting with the limits of resistance of the immune system, through severe or repeated infections, weakens the body. The instruction is then to expose oneself reasonably to infections, the “reasonably” referring to the constitution of each person and the characteristics of the germs encountered (quantity, novelty, aggressiveness). We fall back on common sense, that of isolating fragile people but not healthy people. The notion added by hormesis is that we must constantly adjust these exchanges, not hesitating to modestly expose a fragile person to germs when their condition is stable, rather than locking them up permanently. Unfortunately hormesis is also a contested notion 😉


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