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‘Terrible disservice’: Trump blasts decision pause J&J COVID vaccine distribution over blood clot concerns

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Former President Donald Trump lashed out at the Biden administration over its decision to place a hold on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine after a few people who received it experienced “rare and severe” blood clots.

“The Biden Administration did a terrible disservice to people throughout the world by allowing the FDA and CDC to call a ‘pause'” in the use of the vaccine, Trump said in a statement issued by his Save America PAC.

“The results of this vaccine have been extraordinary but now it’s [sic] reputation will be permanently challenged. 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,” he added.

“They’ll do things like this to make themselves look important,” Trump continued. “Remember, it was the FDA working with Pfizer, who announced the vaccine approval two days after the 2020 Presidential Election. They didn’t like me very much because I pushed them extremely hard.”

The former president went on to say administration health officials should “do your testing, clean up the record, and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine back online quickly. The only way we defeat the China Virus is with our great vaccines!”

The decision Tuesday came after six of some 7 million Americans who’ve been administered the J & J vaccine developed the clots.  Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration advised that the vaccine should be paused “out of an abundance of caution,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

“In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia),” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in the statement. 

“All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination,” they added.

The statement noted further that the CDC is planning to hold an advisory meeting Wednesday to give officials the opportunity to talk about the half-dozen cases and make a decision about future use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The White House also issued a statement including a response from coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients who said the pause isn’t going to disrupt the current pace of vaccinations because J & J vaccines comprise “less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.”

Zients also said that the administration will take action to surge distribution of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to make up the difference for the loss of J&J shots, while promising to work with “state and federal partners to get anyone scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.”

Adm. Brett Giroir, a top official associated with former President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative to quickly develop vaccines, called the pause “an appropriate step.”

“Such clots occur regularly in the population, so this MAY or MAY NOT be related to the vaccine,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. “That is why the investigation and pause is appropriate.”

There is another COVID vaccine in the pipeline from AstraZeneca, but it has not yet been granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. It, too, however, has been associated with similar concerns about blood clots recently, causing the European Union to briefly halt its distribution last month. Also, the United Kingdom is working to find alternatives that it can provide to individuals who are at low risk for complications.

The CDC notes on its website that the J&J vaccine is recommended for people 18 years old and older. The vaccine’s side effects are fatigue, headache, chills, fever, muscle pain, and nausea.

“These side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine. Side effects might affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days,” the site says, adding that side effects “were more common in people 18-59 years old.”

Jon Dougherty

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