KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Medical experts say that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had what is commonly referred to as a breakthrough case of COVID-19. The virus penetrated his vaccine and caused severe illness because the general had health issues that made him more susceptible a bad outcome from COVID-19.
“Colin Powell was just an excellent servant to the United States and his civil service., what he did in his life and his overall accomplishments,” said University of Kansas Health System’s Dr. Dana Hawkinson.
The two-time Presidential Medal of Honor recipient and the first Black secretary of state, Powell served the United States from Vietnam to Desert Storm. But it was the war against COVID-19 that took his life, although he was fully vaccinated.
“That is what the pandemic has done. That is what COVID-19 does,” Hawkinson said. “Any time you get the infection, you do have the risk and you roll the dice of the complications.”
Powell was especially at risk because of his age of 84 and the fact that he was being treated for Multiple Myeloma. Advances in the once extremely deadly blood cancer have transformed it into a chronic disease controlled by treatment. But that treatment weakens the immune system.
“It does raise the question of whether or not because he was immunocompromised, that he had the same response to the vaccine as those of us who are not immunocompromised,” said University Health’s Dr. Mark Steele. “So, that obviously may have played into this.”
With Powell being one of the most high-profile fully-vaccinated people to die from COVID-19, medical experts warn of the possibility his death will be used to try and debunk the importance of vaccination.
Medical experts stress significantly increasing the vaccination rate is critical to reducing the amount of virus in the community.
“You may not replicate the virus in the same amount for as long if you are vaccinated as compared to if you were unvaccinated.” Hawkinson said. “”So it is just cherry picking certain stories or headlines or numbers for use in further misinformation campaigns.”.
Powell had an appointment last week to get his booster shot, but got sick before that appointment, medical experts hope that his story will spark eligible people to get the booster right away.