CNN's John King's Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Explained

In light of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's death, CNN chief national correspondent John King opened up regarding the details of his multiple sclerosis diagnosis during a live on-air episode of "Inside Politics." In doing so, King highlighted the everyday fears and disadvantages those who are immunocompromised face amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among them includes concerns about potential transmission to his child who does not yet meet the age requirements for vaccination. "I worry about bringing it home to my 10-year-old son who can't get a vaccine," King said (via NBC News).

Expressing sincere gratitude towards the surrounding staff and crew who complied with the network's vaccine mandate and whom King works in close physical proximity to, he said, "I am immunocompromised. I have multiple sclerosis. So I'm grateful you're all vaccinated." King went on to say, "I don't like the government telling me what to do, I don't like my boss telling me what to do, in this case, it's important" (via NBC News).

Multiple sclerosis and COVID-19 risk

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition characterized by an abnormal immune response in the body in which inflammation damages the nerve fiber tissue within the central nervous system leading to neurological interruptions to the brain. As a result, symptoms can range from mild to severe, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. While the cause of the condition is still debated within the scientific community, most patients receive an MS diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 50, with women proving to be more susceptible to the disease than men.

While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, there are treatment options available to manage the severity of symptoms (via Mayo Clinic). Because MS can impact one's ability to walk, stretching through exercise and physical therapy may prove helpful, as well as certain medications such as muscle relaxers or medications designed to increase walking speed such as Dalfampridine.

Despite MS patients being at higher risk for infections overall, a 2021 study found that those diagnosed with COVID-19 do not have a significantly higher risk for complications. However, older patients whose progression of the disease is more advanced, particularly when paired with additional underlying health issues, may find themselves at an increased risk for negative outcomes. In telling his story, John King further illustrated the CDC's advice that vaccination is one of the best ways to protect our community's most vulnerable populations from COVID-19 infection.