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Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause is testament to caution, ASU expert says

(Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A pause on new vaccines is not uncommon and should instead be taken as a testament to the caution being used by everyone during the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, an Arizona State University expert claimed.

The U.S. on Tuesday recommended a pause in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of blood clots in a small group of women who received the shots.

A federal advisory committee met on Wednesday to discuss the halt of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but determined more data was needed before deciding to lift the pause. The committee will meet again within a week or so after evaluating more data expected to be available.

Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, explained during a weekly COVID-19 briefing that people carefully monitor vaccines after a roll out and if they see anything concerning, they pause it to evaluate the situation and make further recommendations.

The extremely rare blood clots that have been reported are a lower risk to take compared to the virus itself, blood clots as a result of an infection or the long-term effects, expressed LaBaer.

“Still the virus is far more dangerous to us than the vaccine is by orders of magnitude,” LaBaer said.

The single-dose vaccine has been administered to at least 6.86 million Americans nationwide.

“It’s important to keep in mind the context here. At a rate of one in a million, this is not something that could have been observed in clinical trials,” LaBaer said. “Clinical trials are never done at that scale.”

LaBaer said more research is needed to understand why blood clots are happening and if there is a common demographic among those impacted.

Blood clots have also been reported as a result of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, which uses the same technology to build antibodies as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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