No, we don’t know that J&J vaccine caused serious blood clots in 6 women
The CDC and the FDA are now investigating reports of six rare blood clots in women between the ages of 18 and 48 after they got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine between six and 13 days earlier.
As the investigation is carried out, the New Jersey Health Department has announced that the vaccines from the New Jersey-based company will not be administered in the Garden State until further notice out of an abundance of caution.
Dr. Reynold Panettieri, vice chancellor and director at the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science and a professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, believes this pause is the right course of action.
He said while the type of blood clot that has been found in the six women, known as a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, is potentially dangerous, “what we don’t’ understand is what is the direct contribution of the vaccination to this complication.”
He said it’s not clear if the vaccine actually had anything to do with the blood clots. In the United States 5 out of every million people will develop cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which averages out to 1 in every 200,000 people.
He noted 6.8 million J&J vaccines have been given in the United States so far and there are a total of six reported cases of this form of blood clot being observed, an average of 1 in more than 1.1 million.
In New Jersey, 244,000 doses of J&J vaccine have been administered with no reported severe side effects, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday. The brand accounts for only about 4% of the total 5.64 million COVID-19 vaccine doses given as of late morning.
Of J&J vaccine recipients in-state, 47,266 were women in the 18 to 48 age group, none of whom reported any following issues, state health commissioner Judith Persichilli said on Wednesday.
He pointed out this type of blood clot is also associated with having certain cancers, smoking tobacco and using birth control pills.
“Oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, yet people don’t stop oral contraceptives," he said.
He noted all six of the reported blood clot incidents took place within 16 days of the vaccine being administered, “so for those who were vaccinated and you’re beyond that time frame, the likelihood of you developing anything like this vanishingly small.’
Panettieri said some people may think this kind of a situation has resulted from the COVID vaccine process being expedited but that is not true.
“It took millions and millions of doses before anyone even saw this potential side effect,” he said. “We don’t even know if it’s a side effect.”
Panettieri suggested what people need to do is weigh the potential of having a serious problem from vaccination with getting COVID-19.
“Certainly your likelihood of dying of COVID is much greater than you having this very rare consequence,” he said. “We don’t know all the details but certainly we know the details of not being vaccinated and the potential for serious effects due to COVID itself.”
The Associated Press reported Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious disease, said the vaccine pause would allow the FDA and the CDC to investigate the clotting cases "to try and understand some of the mechanisms" and "to make physicians more aware of this."
A CDC committee is going to meet on Wednesday to discuss the cases and acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock has indicated the investigation should be completed relatively quickly, perhaps in a matter of days
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com