Colin Powell's death shows vaccinating everyone is important to protect cancer patients, doctors say
From CNN's Jacqueline Howard and Maggie Fox
Colin Powell’s death from Covid-19 complications demonstrates the importance of vaccinating everyone against the virus to protect cancer patients and other vulnerable people whose bodies may not mount an adequate immune response, even when they are fully vaccinated, doctors said Monday.
Powell, a former US secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday, his family said.
Powell also had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune response, as well as Parkinson's, Peggy Cifrino, Powell's longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN.
"As unfortunate as his death is this morning, it shows the importance of vaccinations and the morbidity and mortality of being in one or more of those groups. It reinforces what we have been encouraging, continued vaccinations in those age groups and now boosters in those populations as well. For all of the Colin Powells amongst us, in our families, in our communities, we cannot afford to become lax,” Gates added.
“Like over 130,000 Americans today, Secretary Powell suffered from multiple myeloma, which is the second most common blood cancer after non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” added Dr. Paul Richardson, director of clinical research at the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“Multiple myeloma disproportionately impacts Black patients, who are at twice the risk of developing the disease as compared to white Americans, and it’s expected that by 2034, nearly one in four multiple myeloma patients will be African American,” Richardson added.
He continued: “Covid-19 has been a considerable challenge in the multiple myeloma community. Patients are not only vulnerable to infection but once infected, they are more prone to serious complications including vascular effects and profound immune dysfunction. As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic and we prepare to meet the challenges of new variants, we urge individuals to get vaccinated to not only protect themselves and their loved ones, but to protect the health of others as well.”
CNN's Devan Cole contributed reporting to this post.
Powell's youth improvement group calls him a "fierce, longstanding advocate" for country's young people
From CNN’s Devan Cole
America’s Promise Alliance, a nationwide partnership network devoted to improving the lives of America's young people for which Colin Powell and his wife Alma were the founding co-chairs, mourned the loss of the former secretary of state on Monday, remembering him as “a fierce, longstanding advocate for the nation’s young people.”
He continued: “(Powell’s) advocacy brought together unlikely partners, he inspired corporate America to make tangible commitments to the nation’s youth, and he shone a light on the important role that adults of all backgrounds can play in helping young people find their path to success. His own life was the very embodiment of America’s Promise.”
Vice President Harris: Colin Powell "upheld the highest standards"
From CNN's Jasmine Wright
Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the loss of Colin Powell Monday, describing him as a “barrier breaker” who inspired many in the military and beyond.
“As National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State, he was an independent thinker and a barrier breaker who inspired leaders in our military and throughout our nation,” Harris said in a statement.
Harris described her last moments with Powell, saying, “I last saw and spoke with Secretary Powell in July, at a dinner honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I was reminded then how he always showed the world the best of who we are. He upheld the highest standards, representing our nation with dignity, grace, and strength.”
She added, “The legacy that he leaves behind – on America’s national security and on the leaders he mentored – can be seen every day across our nation and the world. “
Read her full statement below:
Secretary Powell served our nation with courage, unwavering in his belief in its principles and its promise. The son of immigrants, Secretary Powell rose through the ranks of the United States Army. He was a decorated veteran and a devoted patriot.
I last saw and spoke with Secretary Powell in July, at a dinner honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I was reminded then how he always showed the world the best of who we are. He upheld the highest standards, representing our nation with dignity, grace, and strength.
The legacy that he leaves behind - on America’s national security and on the leaders he mentored - can be seen every day across our nation and the world.
Douglas and I send our deepest condolences to Secretary Powell's wife, Alma Powell, and their children and grandchildren."
Biden orders flags at the White House to half-staff in honor of Colin Powell
From CNN's Jason Hoffman
President Biden issued a proclamation ordering the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to half-staff until sunset on Friday in honor of the life and service of Colin Powell.
State Department flags at half-staff in honor of Powell
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood
The American flag in front of the State Department has been lowered to half-staff to honor the life of Colin Powell, former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a senior State Department official.
The flag with the State Department seal also in front of the department has been lowered.
Obama: "Powell helped a generation of young people set their sights higher"
Former President Obama praised the leadership and character of Colin Powell, highlighting the ways the first Black secretary of state helped inspire current and future generations.
"It was the way Colin Powell saw the world – not as a starry-eyed idealist, but as someone with deep and abiding faith in this country and what it stands for – that made him such a central figure," he continued.
The former President outlined some specific traits that he believed made Powell a great leader.
Obama also used the opportunity to thank Powell for endorsing his 2008 candidacy. That move was seen as a significant boost for Obama's candidacy due to Powell's widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life.
"On a personal level, I was deeply appreciative that someone like General Powell, who had been associated with Republican administrations in the past, was willing to endorse me in 2008. But what impressed me even more was how he did it," he said.
"At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could," he continued.
Bill and Hillary Clinton: Colin Powell "spent a lifetime working to help our country"
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent their condolences to the family of Colin Powell, whom they described in a statement as a "good and decent man."
"He lived the promise of America, and spent a lifetime working to help our country, especially our young people, live up to its own ideals and noblest aspirations at home and around the world," they said in the statement.
Read the Clintons' full statement:
Hillary and I send our condolences to Alma, Michael, Linda, Annemarie, the entire Powell family, and all the people whose lives he touched through his service and example."
Powell had Parkinson's in addition to cancer, his longtime chief of staff says
From CNN's Jamie Gangel
Peggy Cifrino, Colin Powell's longtime chief of staff, confirms to CNN that "in addition to multiple myeloma, Colin Powell also had Parkinson’s which put him at high risk with an immuno compromised system."
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune response.
Cifrino also confirmed that Powell was vaccinated early on with the Pfizer vaccine and had his second shot in February.
She said he was scheduled to get his booster shot this past week, but that was when he fell ill so he wasn’t able to receive it.
Remember: For fully vaccinated Americans, the risk of being hospitalized or dying from Covid-19 is low – much lower than the risk for unvaccinated people. But in those rare cases when a fully vaccinated person gets infected, data suggests it is older adults and those with multiple underlying medical conditions who are most at risk of serious illness.
Powell's former chief of staff: He was someone "who cared about America more than life itself"
From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury
Retired Army Col. Bill Smullen, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, remembered the life and legacy of his friend, calling Powell "a public servant through and through."
Watch a part of the interview: