CNN: Why vaccinated people dying from Covid-19 doesn't mean the vaccines are ineffective?
Shafaq News/ Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell died on Monday of Covid-19 complications. His family announced that he was fully vaccinated. He was 84 years old, and had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.
Health officials worry that anti-vaccine activists will seize upon Powell's death to make the claim that vaccines don't work. If you can still die after being vaccinated for Covid-19, what's the point of getting the vaccine?
What's the answer to that question? I discussed it with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of a new book, "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."
Dr Leana Wen said, "We need to start with the science and what the research shows. The Covid-19 vaccines are extraordinarily effective in preventing illness and especially severe disease. The most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that they reduce the likelihood of testing positive for Covid-19 by six-fold and the likelihood of death by 11-fold.
"That means that if you are vaccinated, you are six times less likely to get Covid-19 than someone who's unvaccinated. And you are 11 times less likely to die from Covid-19 compared to an unvaccinated person. That's really excellent."
"However, the Covid-19 vaccines do not protect you 100%. No vaccine does, just likely virtually no medical treatment is 100% effective. That doesn't mean the vaccine doesn't work, or that you shouldn't take it," Wen added.
"We know that individuals who are older and have underlying medical conditions are more likely to suffer severe illness and to die following breakthrough infections. Those at particular risk are people who are immunocompromised. Having multiple myeloma would put General Powell into the category of high risk patients, and, in addition to his older age, would add another level of risk."
" Note that this is one of the reasons booster shots are being recommended. Back in August, federal health officials recommended that people with moderate or severe immunocompromise, who had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, receive a third dose of the vaccine. They warned that even with the additional dose, immunocompromised individuals should take additional precautions. That's because this is a category of people who are particularly susceptible to severe outcomes."
Think of the Covid-19 vaccine as a very good raincoat. It works very well to protect you in a drizzle. But if you're in a thunderstorm, and then a hurricane comes, there's a much greater chance that you'll get wet. That doesn't mean your raincoat is defective. It means that you are in bad weather, and the raincoat alone may not always protect you.
If you are around a lot of virus, that increases your chance of getting infected. The problem isn't the vaccine -- it's that there is too much virus around you.
That's why the key is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. That reduces the overall rate of infection and ends up protecting everyone. And, if you are in an area with a lot of virus, wearing a mask in indoor crowded spaces adds an additional level of protection.
And let's not forget that we also get vaccinated to protect the most vulnerable among us, who are at the highest risk for severe outcomes.