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A decision on whether to end a U.S. vaccination break with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot is expected to be made on Friday, U.S. pandemic lead Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.
A government-appointed panel of experts has investigated the vaccine’s possible association with a coagulation disorder seen in half a dozen relatively young women, none of whom had previously known coagulation disorders.
Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency said on Friday that it is expected to make a decision on the safety of the Johnson & Johnson shot on Tuesday after evaluating blood clotting data.
Fauci said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that we “should have an answer by Friday as to where we’re going with this. I would think we won’t go beyond Friday on this extra break.”
While Fauci said he did not want to be one step ahead of the panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he noted that the coagulation disorder was “an extremely rare occurrence”.
“I think we’ll come back with it,” he said, possibly with some caveats or warnings about its use.
US health officials have reported six cases of women developing brain clots with low platelet counts, including one fatality, within two weeks of receiving the single-dose vaccine. All women were between 18 and 49 years old.
The shot was fired at around 7.2 million Americans.
Some experts have spoken out against continuing the break because they fear it will affect disproportionately high-risk groups who are easier to reach with a single-dose vaccine that can be stored in refrigerators.
However, most felt that given the very serious nature of the clots and the plethora of other vaccines in the United States that do not share the same safety concerns, further investigation was needed.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said symptoms in women with coagulation disorders were consistent with rare side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine seen in Europe.
Some European officials have hinted that the European Union may not re-order the AstraZeneca shot after questions about side effects and delays in delivery.
Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are based on adenovirus vector technology, as are the Russian Sputnik V and the Chinese CanSino.
The clotting problem has not been associated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
US officials have stressed that they have ordered more than enough supplies of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to supply the adult population by the end of July.
While the US has become a global leader in vaccination, Fauci said the country continues to be in “a precarious position” as too many people ignore health precautions.
“We have a 7-day average of over 60,000 new infections per day. This is a place you don’t want to be,” he said.
Around 30 million people are vaccinated every week in the United States.
But Fauci warned: “We also have to make sure that people don’t exercise caution and declare victory ahead of time. This is not the time to do that.”
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Quote: Fauci sees the decision on the resumption of the J&J vaccine in the US by Friday (April 18, 2021), accessed on April 19, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-fauci-decision -resuming-jj-vaccine.html
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