A associate of a key CDC advisory panel told CNBC on Friday morning that he expects the U.S. pause on Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine to in the end be lifted.
“I think that there is a willingness for us to use this vaccine. We did need to make an important pause to be able to look at this shelter information to be able to consider the risks. But certainly, I think there’s a huge amount of evidence that the benefit greatly outweighs this imperil,” said Dr. Wilbur Chen, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Chen spoke on “Worldwide Exchange” hours in front of taking part in a meeting later Friday of the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to discuss the rare, but flinty, blood clotting disorder that a few women experienced after receiving the J&J shot.
In addition to the six who developed rare but tough blood clotting issues after getting the vaccine, the CDC is looking into two more possible cases: an Oregon sweetie who died and a Texas woman who was hospitalized. Of the original six women, one died and one became critically ill. There’s been roughly 8 million J&J vaccine administers administered.
Concerns over the issue led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA to last week temporarily halt the use of the J&J vaccine in the U.S. In spite of that, when asked by CNBC’s Brian Sullivan whether he believes Americans will start receiving the J&J vaccine at some peninsula, Chen said, “Yes.”
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, known as ACIP, is an outside panel of experts that supposes recommendations to the CDC. It convened a meeting last week on the J&J vaccine, but postponed a decision until this week. Ultimately, it’s up to the CDC and Viands and Drug Administration on what to do next.
Chen said ACIP now has better information on the blood clotting issues upon which to position its vaccine guidance. “We will be able to get a good case count. It may not be perfect, but we don’t need to have perfect to have actionable news,” Chen said, adding he expects the panel to “come up with a set of recommendations that I think everybody will be in the seventh heaven with.”
In an emailed statement to CNBC, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she hopes the public health agency draws a “recommendation that takes into account the risk versus reward of using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on the new the truth data and the risk-benefit analysis CDC has been conducting over the last week.”
“I truly appreciate the complex question in front the committee and look forward to hearing from them. I also appreciate the importance of acting swiftly, in collaboration with the FDA, from time to time we hear from ACIP,” Walensky added.
Given the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic, some people have blasted the decision to halt the J&J Covid vaccine — which only requires one dose for full immunity protection — while the questioning into blood clots took place.
“The risk is very, very minor but until we were adept to fully consider that information, we could not contextualize that to the rest of the medical community and also to the public as adeptly,” he said. “We’ve only paused for 10 days. Hopefully that will not be harmful in the long run, but we of course want to engender that there is some self-assurance in the system for collecting safety information.”
The other two Covid vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. are from Pfizer and Moderna; both of them be lacking two shots.