Fox News anchor John Roberts deleted a tweet on Monday that suggested former Secretary of State Colin Powell's death from COVID-19 complications raises "new concerns" about the long-term efficacy of inoculation.
Powell's family announced his death in a statement that also said the 84-year-old had been fully vaccinated.
He also reportedly had been diagnosed from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that weakens the body’s ability to protect against infections.
Roberts's deleted tweet said "the fact that Colin PowellColin PowellHow American progressives normalize anti-Semitism Juan Williams: The GOP is an anti-America party Defense & National Security — Biden marks Veterans Day MORE died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term."
It was met with an immediate backlash online, where plenty of those responding noted that Powell's age and specific health history put him at a higher risk for COVID-19.
In a series of follow-up tweets, Roberts explained he'd deleted the tweet because it had been interpreted as being "anti-vax."
Roberts said he had encouraged people to get vaccines and that he also though booster shots could be important.
I deleted my tweet about the tragic death of Colin Powell because many people interpreted it as anti-vax. It was not. I was excited to get vaccinated, hoping it would help speed a return to 'normal life'. I also did a PSA on Fox encouraging vaccination for those able....— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) October 18, 2021
As we all know, the FDA is now recommending boosters for certain people, and I personally know a number of people who have had breakthrough infections - some of them, quite troubling. Yes, Powell had myeloma, but I was still stunned to hear of his passing from COVID....— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) October 18, 2021
..we live in the same town, and we would occasionally run into each at the local sandwich shop. His death is a loss for our community and our country.— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) October 18, 2021
I plan to get a booster as soon as possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among the 187 million vaccinated Americans, there have been roughly 7,000 breakthrough cases resulting in death, Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine noted. 6,000 of those are over the age of 65, suggesting a breakthrough case leading to death is extremely rare.
The tweet from Roberts, critics said, also could lead to more vaccine hesitancy. More contractions of COVID-19, including among the vaccinated, are more likely because of the nation's large unvaccinated population.
Powell was 84. He had cancer. Additionally, the fact that he is perhaps the only real high profile breakthrough death we know about only underscores how effective the vaccines are. It doesn’t raised questions about it. https://t.co/X0Ju24qTN0— Sam Stein (@samstein) October 18, 2021
Fox News has actively promoted vaccination to its viewers and has implemented a vaccine requirement for in-person employees, despite some of its hosts still questioning the necessity of vaccination and criticizing state-ordered coronavirus lockdown measures and vaccine mandates.