The federal government is recommending the immediate suspension of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over blood clotting problems that medical experts believe were caused by the vaccine.
What are the details?
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said administration of the only one-shot vaccine given emergency authorization should be immediately halted “out of an abundance of caution.”
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) April 13, 2021
According to the New York Times, government scientists believe the vaccine may be the culprit behind six women developing serious blood clotting conditions — known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis — within two weeks of receiving the vaccine.
One of those women has died, and another remains hospitalized in serious condition, according to the Times.
In a joint statement, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, called the condition “extremely rare.”
“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” they said. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”
As of Tuesday morning, nearly 7 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine have been administered, while nearly 9 million more doses have been already shipped.
The FDA granted the Johnson & Johnson emergency approval on Feb. 27.
What did J&J say?
The pharmaceutical company said that despite the government’s concerns, no “causal relationship” has been discovered between the vaccine and blood clotting episodes.
“We are aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with COVID-19 vaccines. At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the [Johnson & Johnson] COVID-19 vaccine,” the company said, the Times reported.
What about the other vaccines?
Immediately after news broke about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, people began voicing concerns over whether the government’s decision would sow further distrust in COVID-19 vaccination.
Fortunately, the government did not say the other vaccines granted emergency approval — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the vaccine from AstraZeneca has yet to receive such authorization — have produced adverse reactions.
Both vaccines, then, are still considered safe.
Author: Chris Enloe