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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 | 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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Fina Guitart (April 27, 2020 4:25 PM)
Congratulations for your work!
I would like to have this infographics translated into catalan. Is that possible?
I'm a chemistry teacher at secondary school and also a teacher trainer. I'm a member of the Chemical Society of Chemistry, and we could translate and disseminate your infographics.
Thank you very much
Lauren Wolf (April 29, 2020 3:47 PM)
Hi Fina,
Thanks for your interest. We don't currently translate our content to Catalan. We have limited resources for translations. To clarify, are you proposing that the chemical society you're part of could translate the graphic? If so, you can find me on our staff contact page and message me there. There would still be a cost associated with reproducing the graphic, but we could chat about possibilities. Thanks.
Lorena Esquivel (April 27, 2020 4:37 PM)
Hi! Great job, easy to understand. Do you have the graphic translated to spanish?
Many thanks.
Lauren Wolf (April 29, 2020 3:44 PM)
Hi Lorena,
Thanks for the kind words. We are in the process of translating the graphic to Spanish. When it's ready, it'll post here:

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