A panel of the Centers for Disease Control says that despite the rare risk of blood clots, the vaccine should be suspended from the vaccine.
A U.S. health panel said Friday it was time to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine despite a very rare risk of blood clots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation paves the way for J & J’s shot to go back into arms in the US after regulators discontinued its use earlier this month to report rare, however serious blood clots related to low blood levels to check platelets.
CDC advisors said Friday that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the serious but small risk – especially against a virus that still infects tens of thousands of Americans every day. The government will be quick to weigh this recommendation in deciding what to do next.
Senior health officials have announced that they hope to return to using the vaccine soon.
“The benefits clearly outweigh the risks from a population and an individual perspective,” said Dr. Beth Bell, Advisory Board Member and Clinical Professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“It’s a new risk. It is admittedly an extremely small risk and smaller than many of the other risks we take every day, ”she added.
“The committee’s recommendation is an essential step in ensuring the safe continuation of much-needed vaccinations for millions of people in the United States,” said Paul Stoffels, J & J’s chief scientific officer, in a statement.
He added that the company will continue to work with the CDC, FDA and European health authorities “to ensure that this very rare event can be detected early and treated effectively”.
Of the nearly eight million people who were vaccinated before the US suspended J&J shooting earlier this month, health officials uncovered 15 cases of a highly unusual type of blood clot, three of which were fatal. All were women, most of them under 50.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first discovered six people who developed such clots one to three weeks after their J&J vaccination, including one fatality. The investigation then expanded when the government received what Walensky called “a handful” of additional clot reports, including a death that state officials say is under investigation in Oregon.
The needle-in-hay-pile reports raised the alarm because European regulators had already discovered similar rare clots in recipients of another COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca and J & J’s recordings are not identical, but they are made using the same technology.
European scientists found evidence that an abnormal platelet-damaging immune response to AstraZeneca’s vaccine could be to blame – and if so, doctors should avoid the most common clot treatment, a blood thinner called heparin.
This added to the urgency for U.S. authorities to suspend J&J vaccinations so they could tell doctors how to diagnose and treat these rare blood clots. Several first-time patients were treated with heparin before anyone realized it could harm rather than help them.