- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he doubts the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be canceled altogether.

Instead, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicted that some sort of warning likely will be issued for it once it’s back in distribution.

“I doubt very seriously if they just cancel it. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I do think that there will likely be some sort of warning or restriction or risk assessment,” Dr. Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel will meet Friday to discuss the future of the vaccine, but White House officials have said experts may need about two weeks to study whether it is causing blood clots.

Dr. Fauci pushed back on that timeline Sunday, telling ABC’s “This Week” he thinks there could be guidance issued as soon as Friday.

“I would think we won’t go beyond Friday in an extension of this pause,” he said. “It’s an extraordinarily rare event. The pause was to take a look, make sure we know all the information we can have within that time frame.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was pulled off the market last week after officials announced six women had experienced blood clots. The clotting mostly affected women ages 18 to 49.

The problem was central venous sinus thrombosis, which forms in the brain, potentially causing a stroke.

Dr. Fauci outlined possible guidance to Johnson & Johnson getting the vaccine back on the market, saying there may be restrictions on certain ages and sex.

Critics of the pause have noted that only six people have had issues with the vaccine out of roughly 7 million who had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Former President Donald Trump said the pause was terrible and suggested politics could be involved.

“The results of this vaccine have been extraordinary but now its reputation will be permanently challenged,” Mr. Trump said.

“The people who have already taken the vaccine will be up in arms, and perhaps all of this was done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer. The FDA, especially with long time bureaucrats within, has to be controlled. They should not be able to do such damage for possibly political reasons, or maybe because their friends at Pfizer have suggested it,” Mr. Trump said.

Public health experts worry the delay undermined confidence and could delay people getting vaccinated, which would slow down reaching herd immunity.

Public trust in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine did drop after the pause was announced, according to a YouGov/Economist survey.

The poll published Thursday revealed 57% of people believed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was safe prior to the pause, but once the brakes were put on it, only 32% thought the vaccine to be safe.

Dr. Fauci also predicted that by the end of the summer, experts will know whether a third booster shot is needed for individuals who had the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The CEO of Pfizer Albert Bourla announced Thursday it is likely a third booster shot could be needed and that people may need to get a coronavirus vaccine annually.

As of April 8, nearly 20% of the American population has been vaccinated, and about 30 million vaccines are being distributed per week.

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