TORONTO – The recent death of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the first black due to COVID-19 complications, is a small warning, experts say, reinforcing that those of advanced age or with health complications are still at greater risk. Vaccinated population.

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Powell, who was fully vaccinated but immunized according to reports, died on Monday from complications resulting from a successful case of COVID-19. Powell was 84 years old, and some experts are calling this a “weak vaccination.”

There is ample evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in reducing infections and preventing hospitalizations and deaths in the event of a successful case.

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Tania Watts, an immunologist at the University of Toronto, pointed out that in Ontario alone, according to Ontario Science Table DashboardPeople who are vaccinated are 85 percent less likely to contract COVID-19, and 97 percent less likely to end up in the ICU if they do.

“These are exceptionally good vaccines,” Watts told Granthshala News. “However, they are not 100-percent perfect.”

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Experts are stressing that widespread vaccination is necessary to protect vulnerable people who receive less protection from vaccines.

“The older we get, the less effective our immune system is and the worse it gets” [in those] Over 60,” she added. “But even more so in the older group, the population over 80, and those who are vulnerable, such as those in long-term care.”

Even though double immunizations have dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for the population as a whole, their effectiveness is low in some populations.

“In Colin Powell’s case, he was treated for multiple myeloma, so like other cancer patients, at times the treatments can suppress your immune system, so he would have been especially vulnerable,” Watts said.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infections, as well as disrupt the body’s response to vaccines. Powell had been undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma for the past few years.

Researchers believe that about three percent of the population is immune-compromised – meaning that about one million Canadians may not be completely protected from just two doses.

And they, along with older Canadians who were vaccinated earlier in the year, are now showing signs of reduced immunity.

“What I’m seeing now is that the vulnerable people we vaccinated earlier are becoming vulnerable again,” Rodney Russell, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Memorial University of Newfoundland, told Granthshala News.

“We have been focused on getting people vaccinated for a long time. But in countries like Israel where we saw very early and aggressive vaccination programs, in January, February, until around the sixth, eighth month mark, we have seen That you start getting these successful transitions. [even with] Double notes. And that’s because antibody levels drop, which is normal. We know that with all vaccines and infections.”

That doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t work, and the term “weakened immunity,” while sounding scary, also doesn’t mean that protection completely disappears after a certain point.

“It’s not that you don’t have any immunity,” Watts said.

This means that for at-risk groups who have already had a reduced response to the vaccine, more precautions need to be taken by them and those around them, as the risk of contracting the virus in them is as high as months. could. continue.

This is also one reason why the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends a third dose for long-term care as well as for immunocompromised populations, but not for the general population.

“Mr. Powell, and people in his age group, and people over 65 here in general, worry me because if they are now six months before the second dose, they may have a decrease in the amount of antibodies in their blood. ,” said Russell. “And now they may be more vulnerable to infection and then not be able to deal with the virus as well as a young person.”

Watts emphasized that we need to keep an eye on weakened immunity to see if this occurs in the general population, and how it will affect long-term plans, such as giving Canadians once a year booster shots. Required, such as the flu vaccine.

But right now, the evidence only points to an increased risk for people who are already at risk.

“In special populations such as long-term care, those who are older and particularly vulnerable, there is already evidence of not having good immunity and evidence to promote them and to ensure the people around them. [are] Fully vaccinated,” said Vats.

Russell reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than 7,000 people have died from a successful COVID-19 case, 85 percent were over the age of 65.

“Generally speaking, most success cases that result in death are people over 65,” he said, adding that the risk is higher if they had other risk factors or were immune-compromised.

Scientists worry that these groups may not realize that they are now at a higher risk.

Russell said, “They think they are fine because they have their shots, but if they had two shots six or eight months ago, or another shot three months ago, they may not be as safe as they think.” Huh.” “They’re the ones I’m really worried about.”

He said people at higher risk because of age or underlying health conditions, who received their two shots about six to eight months ago, should be more careful this upcoming holiday season, especially around large family gatherings or Going to shopping malls where there may be people who have not been vaccinated.

Public health experts say the answer is a third shot – and some 280,000 at-risk Canadians have already received one, with parts of Canada already running a vaccination campaign to give booster shots to vulnerable people.

The other important part, Watts says, is making sure people around vulnerable people get vaccinated.

“The more we are vaccinated, the less the virus spreads, and the better,” she said.

“If you have a really good immune response, you’ll clear that virus quickly, even if you have a successful infection, but really, the more of us vaccinated, to protect the particularly vulnerable. done, the better.”

She said that while the higher proportion of vaccinations in Canada makes us safer, and less likely to overwhelm the health care system, “if we leave the remaining 20 percent or more [are] The uninfected become infected, it can still be a real disaster, so we must not lose our vigil just yet.”

Still – doctors say Colin Powell’s case should not be used as an example of a vaccine failure, but as a reminder that even with vaccination, the sick and aging human body can’t survive. There are limits.