The death of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has shaken up a number of people. In a statement provided by Powell's family, it was revealed that Powell was vaccinated against the virus before his death. Several COVID-19 vaccine skeptics used this bit of information to spin conspiracy theory webs within the wide world of social media. Contrary to those theories, medical professionals have indicated that Powell's death should persuade more people to get vaccinated against the virus.
"Yes, Colin Powell died of a breakthrough infection. That is why boosters are recommended for people at high risk for severe COVID-19. Yes, that means vaccines aren’t 100% effective. No, that doesn’t mean that vaccines are 0% effective," Dr. Angela Rasmussen of the University of Saskatchewan tweeted.
Powell was vaccinated against the virus, but he was also immunocompromised. He suffered from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can worsen the effects of the virus. Unfortunately, studies from Nature show that those suffering from myeloma respond less strongly to the vaccine. Byproducts of this condition are the increased chances of being hospitalized and dying from the virus. The CDC estimates that nearly 44% of vaccinated people who end up being hospitalized due to the virus are immunocompromised. Moreover, the CDC reports that approximately 85% of vaccinated people who have died due to the virus are over the age of 65. As Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security puts it, Powell fit into the group that "you'd be most worried about" during the pandemic.
"Yes, Colin Powell was vaccinated. But he also had blood cancer, which devastates the immune system. What his tragic death illustrates isn't the futility of vaccines but the importance of everyone else getting vaccinated to protect society's most vulnerable," Tim Requarth of New York University added.
As the holiday season nears yet again, health officials are urging travelers to take additional precautions to avoid the spread of the virus and lessen the number of cases like Powell's The CDC is asking at-risk individuals to wear masks and social distance while traveling.
"People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose," the CDC stated.
"Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission."
Above all else, the CDC and other health entities are asking people to get vaccinated. Nearly 90% of all COVID-19 related hospitalizations involve unvaccinated patients.
“If you walk through a hospital, it’s not vaccinated people you see with COVID — it’s the unvaccinated," Adalja told BuzzFeed News.
“The goal of vaccines is not to prevent every infection and every death. Vaccines aren’t magic force fields, but they do a good job with making it very unlikely that you get a severe case."