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Dr Anthony Fauci has said that the Johnson & Johnson pause in administering the Covid-19 vaccine will last “days to weeks”, but not months.
“I think we are going to be hearing about a decision pretty quickly,” Dr Fauci said on Wednesday in an interview with NBC’s Today. “I don’t think this is going to drag out.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States’ leading federal health agencies, recommended for states to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people developed severe blood clots.
The six people were all women ages 18 to 48, and one died from the blood clots. Another person was in critical condition, the FDA said in a statement.
CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet later on Wednesday to discuss the recommended pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Dr Fauci was asked if the FDA could pull the pause following the investigation and resume Johnson & Johnson inoculations, but he was unable to give a direct answer.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the advisory committee,” he said.
The FDA’s recommended pause has caused concern among members of the American public who have already received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But Dr Fauci reiterated that the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution”.
“Don’t worry very much. It’s a very, very rare event,” he said. More than 6.8 million Americans have received the single-dose vaccine.
In the six cases, symptoms developed six to 13 days after receiving the jab, so anyone who received the vaccine weeks ago should be at ease. It was recommended for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the last couple of weeks to monitor for severe symptoms, such as abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and bad headaches.
Critics have said that the temporary pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could increase hesitancy among the public who have yet to receive an inoculation. But Dr Fauci said the steps the FDA and CDC were taking to ensure safety of the vaccines could instead diminish hesitancy towards the vaccines.
“At the end of the day, it could actually diminish hesitancy by saying, ‘Boy, those people they are looking at that very carefully, and when they say something’s safe you can believe it’s safe,’” Dr Fauci said. “So, it goes both ways.”
More than 122 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and over 75 million were fully vaccinated from the novel virus, according to data from the CDC.