Color me confused.
If half a dozen serious side effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are enough for federal health authorities to demand a break in its use, why not just order it?
Why are they just striking to the states?
It sounds like being a little pregnant.
And CDC officials had a hard time answering journalists’ questions at that very point yesterday.
They stressed that the six women, 18 to 48, who developed an unusual disorder – one dead, another in critical condition – are a small percentage of the nearly 7 J&J million shots that have been administered so far. “Extremely rare,” said the acting FDA commissioner. But that opened them up to questions about whether this is a huge overreaction.
The FDA, which could pull the plug at any time, said in a joint statement with the CDC that it was making the recommendation based on an “abundance of caution.”
But as deadly as blood clots caused by those who have a severe reaction can be, what about all the lives that could be saved by inoculating humans against coronavirus?
President Biden gets his medical experts to take the lead. But his predecessor was quick to leap on the move.
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The administration did a “terrible disservice” to people around the world, Donald Trump said, because the vaccine’s excellent reputation “will be permanently challenged.”
Then Trump became political, saying the FDA bureaucracy “needs to be controlled” and suggests without proof that the administration may be doing this for political reasons or “perhaps because their friends at Pfizer have suggested it.”
But the guy who started Operation Warp Speed has a prominent point. Unfortunately, millions of people either refuse or are very reluctant to be vaccinated. People who do not know their Pfizer from their Moderna can hear about the news used and conclude that all Covid vaccines are dangerous, that you may even die from them. It would be a significant setback for the country’s efforts to achieve crew immunity.
Even a “break” for a week would take hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses out of the program. And it has a double impact, because J&J has the only one of the three vaccines that only needs one dose instead of two to be effective.
Anthony Fauci tried to be reassuring, saying the chances of this happening to someone who has taken the J&J shot are less than 1 in a million (though people need to take care of the symptoms). But it seems hell much more removed than the chances of getting Covid himself.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has become a snakebite. Less than two weeks ago, 15 million doses were destroyed when the company confirmed that a subcontractor had contaminated them with the AstraZeneca vaccine at a plant in Baltimore. It was a blow to the overall program and a great embarrassment to J&J.
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White House virus coordinator Jeff Zients said the planned break “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination schedule” or the current rate of 3 million daily doses. But no one really knows how long the suspension will last, or the potential impact on vaccination savings.
And in states like Michigan, where new cases are seven times as high as in February, any reduction in shipments is very worrying.
Given the speed and enormous size of the virus program, we are lucky that there have been no major accidents. Perhaps this will prove to be a simple footnote, but at the moment it is worrying.