Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that while some questioned whether the FDA and CDC’s call to pause the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine rollout amid rare instances of blood clots would contribute to vaccine hesitancy, it could actually be viewed as a "positive issue," and serve as a reminder of how seriously the agencies take safety.
Fauci, who was taking part in Wednesday’s COVID-19 White House briefing held hours before the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) was set to meet regarding the one-dose jab’s safety data, also mentioned that work has already begun on the ground to address hesitancy with a Zoom call involving 2,000 community leaders Tuesday night.
"The fact that following the EUA, we have continued to follow very carefully any possibility of adverse events, I believe, is the other side of the coin of hesitancy," Fauci said. "It should reinforce in those individuals how we take safety so seriously, so as opposed to looking at this as a negative safety issue, it could be looked at as a positive issue, where they know that when we let a vaccine be available and give it a go-ahead to be put into the arms of the American people, we do it with a considerable degree of confidence as to its safety. So when I get asked questions about whether or not this has set us back, from a hesitancy standpoint, I give the opposite of that."
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients also added federal officials are working with state partners to help reschedule and shift appointments for Americans who were slated to receive the Johnson & Johnson product. He again repeated that the U.S. has "more than enough supply" to keep up with its current pace of administering around 3 million doses per day.
"As you know, yesterday the FDA and CDC announced that out of an abundance of caution they have recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine," Zients said. "I want to be clear that this announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination program. The J&J vaccine makes up less than 5% of the more than 190 million reported shots in arms in the U.S. to date."
Zients said that 28 million doses of the Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being shipped out this week. He added that President Biden’s initiative to move up production and delivery schedules for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna has also ensured that the country will secure enough doses for more than 300 million Americans by the end of July.