DENVER (KDVR) – Colin Powell’s family announced Monday that the four-star general and former secretary of state has died from complications of COVID-19.
The 84-year-old was vaccinated, but was fighting a blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
Dr. Tara Gregory is the president of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute and a specialist in multiple myeloma.
“Patients who have blood cancers including multiple myeloma really do have more serve COVID infections when they develop them,” Gregory said.
Gregory said recent research shows 45% of blood cancer patients did not mount an adequate immune response to the vaccine.
“That’s just by virtue of their disease, and the way that it influences their ability to make anitbodies, and then the treatments we give them,” Gregory said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with weakened immune systems, cancer, HIV, or organ transplants make up about 3% of the population, but they represent a large portion of the breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization.
Dr. Connie Savor Price is the chief medical officer at Denver Health. She said this should not dissuade people from getting vaccinated.
“I think that it shouldn’t be a lesson that vaccine doesn’t help in these populations, it absolutely does. But, we have to remember that the response isn’t quite as robust, and that’s why this group was the first group to be recommended for third dose booster shots for the mRNA vaccine,” Price said.
Price said it’s important for people in that group to get their booster shots, and it’s important for the people around them to get vaccinated and take precautions.