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Infectious disease


Periodic Graphics: How does immunity work?

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning explains how our bodies fight foreign invaders like coronaviruses

by Andy Brunning
April 21, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 16


Andy Brunning/C&EN
Andy Brunning/C&EN

To download a pdf of this article, visit

References used to create this graphic:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding How Vaccines Work. Last updated July 2018.

Janeway, Charles A., Jr., Paul Travers, Mark Walport, and Mark J. Shlomchik. “The Distribution and Functions of Immunoglobulin Isotypes.” In Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th ed. New York: Garland Science, 2001.

Li, Geng, Yaohua Fan, Yanni Lai, et al. “Coronavirus Infections and Immune Responses.”J. Med. Virol. (Jan. 2020). DOI: 10.1002/jmv.25685.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Cancer Institute. Understanding the Immune System: How It Works. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2003.

Siegrist , Claire-Anne. “Vaccine Immunology.” In Plotkin’s Vaccines. 7th ed. Edited by Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein, Paul A. Offit, and Kathryn M. Edwards, 16–34. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2018.

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit

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