Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell's death on Monday (October 18) shocked the political and military worlds. Powell's family announced his death via Facebook, stating that he died of Covid-19 complications amid a cancer battle, noting the 84-year-old was fully vaccinated.
In the wake of the news of his death, some attributed the Covid-19 vaccine as Powell's cause of death. To set the record straight, Powell's longtime assistant, Peggy Cifrino, revealed additional details of his health conditions that reduced the vaccine's effectiveness.
"He was actually scheduled to receive his booster when he fell ill last week," Cifrino told The Washington Post. "He couldn't go to his appointment. ... He thought he was just not feeling quite right, and he went to the hospital."
Powell had been treated for a blood cancer called multiple myeloma which severely impacts the immune system, and suppresses the effectiveness of vaccines, Cifrino added. He had received successful treatment for the cancer in the last two or three years, Cifrino said, adding that the former general and Bronx native had also suffered from Parkinson's Disease.
"Obviously it was a factor with his compromised immune system when he got the covid," Cifrino, who worked for Powell for 28 years, said.
Data shows that people within Powell's age cohort are at a particular higher risk of a severe outcome if they get a breakthrough infection after being fully vaccinated.
CDC data shows that of 7,178 deaths among people who were fully vaccinated, 85% of them were over the age of 65. The agency has also tracked nearly 25,000 nonfatal breakthrough infections that led to hospitalizations. Men, the agency found are also at higher risk of fatal breakthrough infections, making up 57 percent of those cases.
The agency also highlights the evidence that shows Covid-19 vaccines significantly lower the risk of hospitalization and deaths from the virus overall, but like all vaccines, they do not create an impenetrable barrier to getting infected.
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