Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee discusses the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine break at a meeting Wednesday afternoon as a possible link to a small number of rare blood clots is being investigated.
The emergency meeting follows the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement on Tuesday that it was studying six cases of rare and severe blood clots in women aged 18 to 48, one of whom has died. All the women had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before developing the clots, although it is not known if the vaccine is responsible. As of Tuesday, more than seven million people in the United States received the vaccine and an additional 10 million doses were shipped to the states, according to CDC data.
Following the call from federal health agencies, the 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico on Tuesday promptly halted or recommended that providers suspend administration of the vaccine. The US military, federally run vaccination sites and a host of private companies including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Publix have also suspended injections.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is a group of independent experts who advise the CDC on its vaccine policies. During the meeting, the experts examine and debate data on rare blood clots, including a seventh case, and will hear public comment later, before a possible vote on how to proceed. They could vote to recommend that the break continue, for example, or to make it clear that it should only apply at a certain age or gender.
Federal officials said on Tuesday that the hiatus could last only a few days, although that depends on what officials learned during the investigation. They said the hiatus would give officials more time to alert doctors that patients who have these rare blood clots should not be given the heparin drug, the standard treatment doctors give for typical clots, and will also give the time. determine if there are others. case.
The bleeding disorder of concern in vaccinees is different – and much rarer – than typical blood clots, which develop in hundreds of thousands of people each year. All seven women had not only clotting in the brain, but particularly low levels of platelets, parts of the blood that help form normal clots. Experts on the panel discussed the known background rates of each condition in the general population, but noted that there is not enough data to accurately estimate how often they occur at the same time.
“At this time, we think these events are extremely rare, but we are not yet sure that we have heard of all possible cases, as this syndrome may not be easily recognized as being associated with the vaccine,” Dr Rochelle P. Walensky, the CDC director said on Wednesday at a White House press conference on the pandemic.
The American Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, reiterated Wednesday that the break in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations gives public health officials a chance to investigate cases and discuss them with medical professionals. He added that breaks are frequent when new vaccines and drugs are launched.
“We’re just doing the due diligence that we need to do to make sure everything is safe so that we can continue with our vaccination efforts,” Dr Murthy said on “CBS This Morning.”
The committee’s assessment will be crucial as the country rushes to vaccinate as many people as possible to curb the steady build-up of cases, especially as worrying variants gain traction. Some public health experts have been disappointed with the FDA’s recommendation to suspend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, claiming that preventing these extremely rare side effects was not worth the compromise slow down the vaccination campaign and potentially undermine public confidence in vaccines in general.
- On April 13, 2021, U.S. health agencies called for an immediate halt in the use of Johnson & Johnson Single Dose Covid-19 Vaccine after six recipients in the United States developed a rare disease involving blood clots within one to three weeks of vaccination.
- All 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico temporarily discontinued or recommended providers pause vaccine use. The U.S. military, federally run vaccination sites, and a host of private companies including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Publix, also stopped the injections.
- Less than one in a million Johnson & Johnson vaccines is currently under investigation. Whether there is indeed a risk of blood clots from the vaccine – which remains to be determined – this risk is extremely low. The risk of contracting Covid-19 in the United States is much higher.
- The hiatus could complicate the nation’s vaccination efforts at a time when many states are dealing with an outbreak of new cases and seek to remedy the reluctance to immunize.
- Johnson & Johnson also has decided to delay the deployment of its vaccine in Europe amid worries about rare blood clots, another blow to the inoculation of Europe. South Africa, devastated by a more contagious variant of the virus that has emerged there, suspension of vaccine use as well as. Australia has announced that it will not buy any doses.
Speaking at the press conference, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said the hiatus would generally not interrupt the momentum of the country’s vaccination campaign.
“In the very short term, we expect an impact on daily averages as sites and appointments move from Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” he said. “We have more than enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue or even accelerate the current pace of vaccinations.”
Noah Weiland, Denise Grady and Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.