On April 13, 2021, CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. When I first heard that the FDA was pausing the J&J vaccine because of less than 10 blood clots out of millions of patients, I thought I’d really get to the bottom of blood clots and blog about it. Other people (some of them are the kind of doctor that helps people) have already done a pretty good job in the past few days.
First, it is a tragedy that the vaccine is not being give to every male over 50 who wants it. Doing so would free up many thousands of other types of vaccines for young women.
Second, I discussed this with a physician neighbor, and she agreed that the vaccine distribution should not be paused. Finally she said, “but it makes sense to take a pause and discuss the issue”. That’s wild, because we stood there on the sidewalk discussing every angle and all known data. It took us less than 10 minutes. She prescribes birth control to women regularly, by the way.
Below are resources I have used this week to help me understand the topic.
Here are the leading causes of death in America in 2019. We should all meditate on this, at least once a year. Our discourse is ruled by anecdotes about people dying in odd ways.
Here is CDC data on blood clots. “Estimates suggest that 60,000-100,000 Americans die of DVT/PE (also called venous thromboembolism)” annually.
Many popular news outlets jumped on this story. Business Insider here. Even though most tweeters think that “the masses” will be scared off from the vaccine by this incident, I consider another possibility. If people read past any of the headlines, they will end up learning a lot about medicine and side effects. The takeaway from most popular articles is “paws off my vaccine, FDA”.
The American Heart Association lists the top acquired risk factors for blood clots as smoking and being obese. Both of those factors are more important than the birth control hormone issue. You can legally sell someone cigarettes and alcohol, but you can’t give them a J&J vaccine.
An MD tweets that it’s Game Over for J&J, but IMO he’s underweighting the risk of Covid to older men. What about the long haulers?
An MD on background risk of CVST
Dr on how Covid increases the risk of blood clots. The alternative to giving someone a vaccine is letting them get Covid.
If anyone has doubts about how deadly Covid is, go to Jeremy’s post about excess deaths in 2020.