On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that states pause their rollout of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, citing six people who suffered rare cases of blood clotting in a vein carrying blood away from the brain. The six cases occurred in American women between the ages of 18 and 48, and one of the women died.
The news comes as Johnson & Johnson was also dealing with a processing plant that botched 15 million doses before distribution. Tuesday’s Johnson & Johnson pause, which could last days or a week, is also an obstacle to President Biden’s administration as it tries to assure vaccine-hesitant Americans that the coronavirus vaccines are safe. On Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said at a White House press briefing: “This is a really rare event. If you look at what we know so far, there have been six out of the 6.85 million doses, which is less than one in a million.”
For help explaining the news, The Brink reached out to Florian Douam, a virologist and vaccine expert at BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). At the NEIDL, Douam is developing humanized mouse models that can help lead to better vaccines against COVID-19 in humans. Douam, who is also a BU School of Medicine assistant professor of microbiology, gave us his take on how the J&J news will impact national and global COVID vaccination efforts as well as vaccine hesitancy among the public.