Colin Powell died from complications due to Covid-19…but he was vaccinated. What conclusions can we draw about vaccine effectiveness?
The facts: Colin Powell was 85 years old and had multiple myeloma—a rare type of blood cancer. This nefarious type of cancer attacks the cells that make antibodies (the things you need to effectively fight off infections like Covid-19).
We know that both older people and the immunocompromised produce fewer antibodies in response to the covid vaccines (and infections generally). This is why boosters were recommended for people in these groups. Colin Powell falls into both groups and so we would expect his antibody response to the vaccines to be very low.
Does this mean that vaccines don’t work? No, it means that the elderly need more than 2 doses for an effective antibody response and the immunocompromised need more than 2 doses for an effective antibody response. People who fall into both categories likely will be vulnerable to covid-19 infections whether they’re vaccinated or not.
What does it mean for people who don’t fall into these categories? First, if you have a normally functioning immune system, you will likely develop a strong antibody response to the vaccine, rending it effective. Second, it means that if we wish to protect the lives of the immunocompromised and the elderly, we should all get vaccinated in order to reduce the prevalence of Covid-19.