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J&J still on pause as CDC panel reviews blood clotting concerns

Even with temporary hold on third vaccine, there is enough of a supply of Moderna and Pfizer to vaccinate every American, Biden says.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

(Photo by lechatnoir/Getty Images)(Photo by lechatnoir/Getty Images)

The pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will continue as a federal panel reviews the cases of six women who received the vaccine and developed blood clots.

One case was fatal, that of a 45-year old woman with no risk factors who received the vaccine and developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with hemorrhage, according to information from J&J released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

All of the other five blood clotting events were also reported in females, ages 26 to 59, according to information from J&J. The 26-year-old has been discharged from the hospital, while the rest had not yet recovered as of Tuesday.

A 48-year old woman remains in critical condition. She went to the ER after three days of malaise and abdominal pain, the report said.

The panel said it was reviewing six blood clotting cases in women ages 18-48, with symptoms developing six to 13 days after vaccination.

The panel has not determined whether the serious adverse events are related to the J&J vaccination. In fact, during clinical trials two people developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, with one being on a placebo. Both the 25-year old male and the 24-year old female – who was on the placebo – have recovered, according to the panel's status.

The panel met the day after the CDC recommended states pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the blood clotting concerns. Members are expected to meet again in a week. 

More than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The postponement means the pause on J&J's vaccine will remain in effect.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the lack of having a third COVID-19 vaccine to administer will not impact supply. An estimated 600 million doses from Moderna and Pfizer are available, he said, adding there is enough supply to vaccinate every American.

THE LARGER TREND

Health concerns for blood clots also exist for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is not in use in the United States.

Denmark said Tuesday it would no longer use the AstraZeneca vaccine, not out of health safety concerns, but because it was not needed. That's because the country is in such an advanced stage of the vaccine rollout, according to CNN.

The European Medicines Agency found a possible link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets.

However, Barron's reported that research from the University of Oxford shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also carry the rare blood clotting risk.

Cerebral venous thrombosis developed in four in a million people who received those vaccines, the report said. This compares to five in a million people who developed blood clots after the first dose of AstraZeneca.

ON THE RECORD

J&J said by statement: "The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. While causality has not been fully established between these very rare events and our vaccine, we recognize these events could represent an important potential risk with the Janssen vaccine."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com