Use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely resume in the United States by the end of the week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday shows.
“By Friday, we should have an answer as to where we’re going with it. I would think that we’re not going to go beyond Friday in the extension of this pause,” Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
“I don’t want to get ahead of them. But I don’t think that they’re going to completely cancel because the data, or such, at least from what we see, they’re looking to see if there are more cases,” he added.
Federal health officials on April 13 recommended states stop administering Johnson & Johnson shots because six women who had gotten a jab developed a rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in conjunction with low blood platelet levels. One of the women died.
Compounding the concerns is the similarity between Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and one produced by the UK’s AstraZeneca, which has been linked to at least 169 post-vaccination blood clot cases in Europe and was found to be “likely linked” to a death in Australia.
States across the nation took heed of the federal advice, halting the use of the vaccine.
The pause was aimed at preparing health care workers “to recognize and treat patients appropriately, and to report severe events they may be seeing in people who’ve received the J&J vaccine,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters in a call last week.
One crucial warning to circulate is that the standard treatment for clots, the anticoagulant Heparin, could actually make things worse for the patients in question due to the type of clot.
The build up in the number of cases prompted officials at the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are probing each case, to recommend a pause, Fauci said on Sunday, adding that the agencies could end up advising, based on the information they find, that certain populations should not get the Johnson & Johnson shot.
“We did not have enough information to make a narrow restriction off the bat. When we get more information and that’s what we’re talking about Friday, it may be by the time you get to Friday that they will say, ‘OK, we’ve looked into it now. Here are some of the restrictions.’ But I think it would have been too early to have restrictions without looking more closely at it,” he said.
Another official, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, said during a TV appearance Monday that guidance on the Johnson & Johnson shot could come in days and may involve “restrictions around age or gender.”
The CDC’s vaccine advisory committee met on April 14 to discuss the blood clotting cases. The panel decided that it was not able to come to a conclusion on the matter until it received more data.
The committee plans on meeting again on Friday.
“I think, by that time, we’re going to have a decision. Now, I don’t want to get ahead of the CDC and the FDA and the advisory committee,” Fauci said.
“But I would imagine that what we will see is that it would come back, and it would come back in some sort of either warning or restriction.”
Fauci was speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” Vivek was speaking on CNN’s “New Day.”