The Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention halting distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is a dangerous overreaction that will discourage Americans from getting the vaccination.
There is a 1-in-7 million chance a person receiving the shot will experience the chance of a deadly blood clot. This is just a chance they will get a blood clot, not a blood clot that will lead to death. But apparently, that risk is too great for the federal government, which has paused its distribution — a huge public health failure.
The cost-benefit equation of not getting the shot is too great. Pollster Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight summed up the odds like this: “Say there is a 1 in 100 chance someone acquires COVID because of a delayed vaccine (maybe conservative in the U.S. where spread is still quite high) and a 1 in 150 chance they die from it. That’s a 1 in 15,000 chance versus 1 blood clot death in 7,000,000 doses so far.”
That’s not even counting the folks who may contract COVID-19 because of the delayed vaccination, and could pass the virus on to one other person (which is about where the U.S. is in contagion right now), indicating the death rate could be twice as high, Mr. Silver added.
Let’s put this in even greater perspective: There is a 1-in-1,000 chance women taking the birth control pill will develop a blood clot, and yet the pill and its generic forms are widely available, and the blood clot risk considered “very small,” according to the National Blood Clot Alliance.
Moreover, virtually every pharmaceutical advertisement on television warns of side effects, up to and including death. Since when do we assume we are living in a risk-free, perfect environment?
“The Biden Administration did a terrible disservice to people throughout the world allowing the FDA and CDC to call a ‘pause’ in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” former President Donald Trump said in a statement today. “The results of this vaccine have been extraordinary, but now its reputation will be permanently challenged.”
Indeed. The J&J vaccine has a 66.3% effectiveness overall and has a 100% efficacy against COVID-19 hospitalization and death — which is why it should be administered. Lower death and hospitalization rates are the end-goal, not minimal side effects one may receive.
Mr. Trump hinted in his statement the real reason for the pause of J&J’s vaccinations — maybe the FDA’s preferential treatment of Pfizer, which has a competing vaccination on the market. Already, New York has said all J&J scheduled vaccinations will be replaced with Pfizer’s dose.
He could be on to something.
Meanwhile, J&J’s reputation will be in shatters, millions of vaccination doses will go unadministered, and people will become even more skeptical and hesitate to get a prick in the arm.
Way to go, Biden administration. You delivered quite the health safety blow.