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Reaction after US recommends pause for J&J vaccine

esperanza guevara, 31, receives a johnson & johnson coronavirus disease (covid 19) vaccination, in los angeles
A woman receives a Johnson &Johnson coronavirus disease vaccination, in Los Angeles, California

U.S. federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after six recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots, in a fresh setback to global efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Following are initial reactions:

Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

“It’s important to remember the ‘hold’ is only on federal vaccine sites — not all.

“I think this is a very low risk issue, even if causally linked to the vaccine: 6 cases with about 7 million doses (lower than the risk of clots with oral contraceptives) is not something to panic about, but the federal government has been overly cautious with many aspects of this pandemic.

“People are asking me if they should cancel their J&J vaccine appointments and I have told them not to. But I know many well and this will stall progress in controlling the pandemic.”

Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

“It shows our vaccine safety surveillance system is really working.

“We’ll see what the further investigation by the FDA scientists and their external advisory committee show, but it is disturbing, of course,” added Schaffner, who is a consultant to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It certainly is concerning because the other vaccine in which this issue has been raised is also the other adenoviral vector vaccine, so you have to worry about that. That I think contributed to the very quick action of the CDC that is going to put the use of this vaccine on pause.”

Dr. Robert Klugman at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Massachusetts.

“The FDA recommendation to pause the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine out of an abundance of caution makes sense in terms of the nature of the unusual and serious side-effect…

“While the incidence is very low, the severity and potential for brain damage and other blood clot-related injuries is of great concern.”

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