PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of joint chiefs, died from COVID-19 Monday. Powell was fully vaccinated but battled underlying conditions. Powell was 84.
Powell’s death from complications related to COVID-19 highlights the risks millions of Americans are still facing, even for people who are vaccinated.READ MORE: First Confirmed Cases Of COVID-19 Omicron Variant Reported In Philadelphia, New Jersey
Powell had several serious health conditions and even though he was fully vaccinated, people like Powell, who are sick, are at greater risk from the coronavirus.
Powell was elderly and immunocompromised, two of the primary components that make COVID-19 deadly, even for people who are fully vaccinated.
The 84-year-old Powell had Parkinson’s disease, a history of prostate cancer and also multiple myeloma — that’s a blood cancer that affects bone marrow and white blood cells impairing the body’s ability to fight infection.
A statement from Powell’s family says he died of complications of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
“While I certainly understand the death of a notable person, a hero like Gen. Powell, from a breakthrough infection will make headlines and may make you question your vaccination, the reality is that the vaccinations are highly protective,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.READ MORE: Family Of Fallen Delaware County Firefighter Has Mortgage Fully Paid Off
Breakthrough COVID infections that happen after someone is fully vaccinated are most dangerous for patients with underlying medical conditions.
More than 189 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of nearly 32,000 patients with breakthrough infections who were hospitalized or died.
“The vaccines are not perfect, but they do provide an extraordinarily strong measure of protection,” Dr. William Schaffner with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center said. “And if we add on continuing wearing the masks, social distancing, we’ll be protected even further.”
Powell was reportedly vaccinated early and got sick before he was able to get a scheduled booster shot.
“Gen Powell represents the most vulnerable population in this country — over 80 with cancer and the treatment for his cancer made him vulnerable,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner with George Washington University said. “So when we try to convince young people to feel they’re low risk to the virus, why they need to be vaccinated its to protect our treasures people like Gen Powell, our grandparents.”MORE NEWS: Mother Of Ahmir Jones, Teen Killed Protecting Girlfriend During Robbery Near Temple University, Speaks Out
Powell’s wife also had a breakthrough case of COVID-19 but responded to treatment with monoclonal antibodies. It’s unclear how they were infected or what kinds of treatments Powell received.