Federal health officials said the pause on Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccinations could soon be lifted, in interviews with the New York Times over the past week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommended the pause last week after a blood-clotting disorder was discovered in six recipients of the vaccine, out of a total of 7 million recipients. Officials have since searched for additional cases of the clotting disorder.
Acting FDA commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said that while a small number of cases were discovered, the rate of the clotting disorder was not higher “in terms of the order of magnitude” even with the new cases.
“We’ve now received more cases, but it isn’t an avalanche,” Woodcock told the Times. “We’re not seeing a big surge, which is a great relief.”
Officials are waiting to receive recommendations from a committee of outside experts scheduled to meet Friday before moving forward with Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations. The FDA will likely place a warning on the vaccine’s label regarding the rare potential side effect.
“We know that it’s not a good thing to leave the pause going for any longer than it absolutely has to go for,” Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s top vaccine regulator, told the Times. “Once, essentially, the adequate discussion has occurred, we’re prepared to move as quickly as we possibly can.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to be 100 percent effective against hospitalization and death from the coronavirus in clinical trials. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is administered in a single shot.
European nations also stopped administering Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines following the recommendation by the FDA and CDC. However, European regulators have already recommended moving forward with vaccinations.
The “overall benefits” of the vaccine still “outweigh the risks of side effects,” the European Medicines Agency said Tuesday.