Federal health officials earlier today called for a pause in the use of the Jonson & Johnson COVID19 vaccine, saying they are currently investigating reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot among over seven million people in the United States who were given the shot.
The Washington Post reported that the drug manufacturer said the cases of blood clots are being investigated as well by European health authorities, and that the company is deferring the vaccine's roll out there.
But, according to the Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, she'd like to stress that the blood clot occurrences seem to be extremely rare.
Nevertheless, she added that COVID-19 safety is a top priority for the federal governments and they are taking all reports of adverse events after vaccination very seriously. It was also Woodcock who said that the investigation would move fast and could include in days.
Pausing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Such recommendation led to swift action with the US military and several states announcing they were suspending the use of the single-shot vaccine of Johnson & Johnson.
Over 7.1 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine had been provided throughout the US as of today.
Approximately 16 million doses have been delivered to US states and territories and through federal channels since the start of March.
The single-shot option has proven popular for those who gravitated to its convenience, and states have deployed it in an array of settings, from mass vaccination locations to targeted initiatives to reach transient populations like the homeless.
The decision to pause the use of this COVID-19 vaccine in the US kindled a debate on social media, with some contending that the danger of COVID-19 stayed higher compared to the rare risk of an adverse effect from vaccination.
Vaccine specialist Paul Offit, from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said he thinks pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine "is a prudent thing to do." He added that blood clot is a rare occurrence but real.
Use of the Vaccine Paused to Bring Awareness
The chair of the Department of Medicine at Canada-based McMaster University Mark Crowther said that the pause needs to be done to rapidly assess the danger and determine if there are people for whom the danger is outweighing the vaccine's benefit.
However, he worried that the attention might fuel hesitancy to get vaccinated, although the risk of developing a clot following receipt of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine seems far lower compared to the chance of a clotting issue resulting from a severe COVID-19 infection, or from the use of hormonal birth control.
Crowther added that having the FDA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decide to very transiently pause the use of the said COVID-19 vaccine makes good sense while it is being investigated.
The instant practical impact of the recommended pause was restricted since the overwhelming majority of the 192 million jabs administered in the US have been made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Modena which uses a different technology.
Woodcock, as well as the other federal health officials, emphasized that one reason to pause the use of this COVID-19 vaccine which is the third authorized COVID-19 jab in the US was to ensure medical professionals were aware that blood clots potentially linked to a vaccine should not be treated with heparin, a conventional drug, which could worsen or aggravate the clots.
According to the joint FDA and CDC statement, all six cases of the rare blood clots in the US involving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine occurred among women aged from 18 to 14 years old, and symptoms develop between six and 13 days from vaccination.
Similar to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effect
Top FDA vaccine official, Peter Marks said, the clots are extremely akin to an extraordinary set of symptoms identified in people who were given the AstraZeneca vaccine. Specifically, they experienced blood clots paired with low platelet levels.
European regulators, as well as scientists, have determined that syndrome is probably stimulated by an immune response to that vaccine, which uses the same technology as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to shield from COVID-19.
A similar report is shown on KVUE's YouTube video below: