Surge in vaccine misinformation on social media following death of Colin Powell

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Following the death of former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, from Covid-19, a proliferation of anti-vax messaging has appeared on social media. Powell’s family has confirmed he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19. He was also 84 years of age and had been diagnosed with blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

He died on October 18, with so-called “anti-vaxxers” seizing on his fully vaccinated status to perpetuate ongoing claims the vaccines don’t work.

“PROOF this Vaccine does NOT EVEN WORK, or and is NOT EVEN a REAL VACCINE.”

According to an AFP report, in what is thought to have been his last interview, Powell recently told journalist Bob Woodward that he had a type of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma. The cancer affects the plasma cells that help to produce antibodies, which Onyema Ogbuagu, a specialist in infectious diseases at Yale School of Medicine says would affect vaccine efficacy.

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“If you had to choose a medical condition that would severely impact or diminish your response to vaccines, it would be multiple myeloma.”

According to Ogbuagu, Powell’s health conditions put him at significant risk and “severely limited his ability to mount a response to the vaccine. He’s an outlier, unfortunately.”

His view is echoed by Samir Parekh, who helped author a study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Researchers discovered that in addition to multiple myeloma patients having a poor antibody response to Covid-19, their T cells, a different part of the immune system, are also affected, generating a weak response. In addition, the treatments offered for myeloma can further compromise the immune system, but Parekh is in no doubt about the importance of Covid-19 vaccines generally.

“There’s no question that the vaccines work.”

It is now known that the elderly and those with compromised immune systems from chronic illnesses or underlying conditions, are more at risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19. Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that fully vaccinated people are 6 times less likely to contract Covid-19 and 11 times less likely to die from it. However, deaths in vaccinated people over the age of 80 were nearly as high as deaths among unvaccinated people aged 50 – 64 years old.


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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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