A recommendation that Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine should not be used in the United States is likely to sit in place for another week after members of a government advisory committee said they did not have enough information to change their opinion.
Experts from the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices met on Wednesday to discuss the safety of the company’s vaccine after six women who later received it fell ill with very rare but serious blood clotting problems. One of those people died, health officials said.
These cases prompted the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to issue a declaration Tuesday, recommending states and healthcare workers to stop using the vaccine indefinitely.
This announcement effectively brought NOT A WORDThe vaccine rollout was abruptly halted just weeks after the vaccine was approved, with around 7 million doses administered so far.
The CDC showed evidence on Wednesday that the vaccine could be linked to a rare type of brain blood clot called CVST. All six cases occurred in women aged 18 to 65, It said, much more than one would have expected for this demographic during this period.
What made the cases so serious, officials said, is that several patients also reported low platelet counts, which means traditional heparin treatment for blood clots could have made their disease worse. The deceased woman, the CDC said, suffered from both CVST and a low platelet count, with her symptoms starting 11 days after receiving the vaccine.
Supporters of the J&J jab had hoped ACIP members would recommend restarting vaccinations, if only for a certain portion of the population. The J&J vaccine is easier to store than Moderna or BioNTech / Pfizer inoculations and only requires a single dose, making it important for vaccinating more difficult to reach people.
Nirav Shah, president of the Association of State and Territory Health Officials, told the meeting: “Extending the break will invariably result in the most vulnerable people in the United States, who were the main Candidates for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will remain vulnerable, those most at risk will remain at risk, and those who would benefit immediately from the vaccination will remain unvaccinated for an unknown period of time. “
But instead, members asked for more time to gather and assess the evidence, in effect extending the break by at least a week until they meet again.
Grace Lee, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University who sits on the committee, said: “The risk / benefit ratio for me is not clear without having an estimate of the risk of this particular potential adverse event based on the age, gender and understanding of other risk factors that may contribute. “