J&J COVID vaccine to remain on pause in US for now

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will remain on pause in the US for now — with a federal advisory committee saying Wednesday it needs time and evidence to determine if the shot is linked to serious blood clots experienced by a handful of patients.

During an emergency meeting, CDC advisors said they would table a vote until more information is available, following the nationwide halt announced Tuesday.

“I continue to feel like we’re in a race against time and the variants, but we need to (move forward) in the safest possible way,” said Dr. Grace Lee of Stanford University.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to reconvene within in a week to 10 days, USA Today reports.

The pause was originally put in place after six female recipients were reported to have suffered from blood clots — including one who died. The drug maker at Wednesday’s meeting revealed two more cases — including a 25-year-old man who participated in its trials for the shot.

Registered nurse Ashleigh Velasco, right, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Immokalee, Fla.

“What we have here is a picture of clots forming in large vessels where we have low platelets,” CDC’s Dr. Tom Shimabukuro explained. “This usually doesn’t happen,” but it’s similar to European reports with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson has been a relatively minor player in the US vaccination effort, with 7 million doses distributed and the vast majority of Americans receiving Moderna or Pfizer’s two-dose regimen.

But J&J’s version has been considered important for inoculating people in harder-to-reach situations. In New York City, it has been at the center of the effort to vaccinate homebound seniors — a program that is now on pause.

Grubb's Pharmacy

12 Johnson & Johnson has been a relatively minor player in the US vaccination effort, with 7 million doses distributed.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In addition to examining the link between the vaccine and the condition, officials say they want to ensure medical professionals know how to safely treat people who are afflicted with it.

If patients continue to get clots, officials worry public confidence in the one-dose shot could be undermined — just as it is needed most to serve vulnerable populations around the world.

“We know we are fighting a war against COVID-19,” Dr. Peter Marks, the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief, said Tuesday. But when it comes to side effects, “we don’t, in the United States, have a lot of tolerance for friendly fire.”

With Post wires

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