Dr. Fauci: Decision on J&J Vaccine as Early as Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci arrives at an event commemorating the 50 millionth COVID-19 vaccine shot on Feb. 25, in Washington, D.C. (Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

A decision on whether to resume use of Johnson & Johnson‘s COVID-19 vaccine could come as soon as Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS on Sunday, adding that he would not be surprised if there is a “resumption in some form.”

Scientists at Johnson & Johnson on Friday refuted an assertion in a major medical journal that the design of their COVID-19 vaccine, which is similar AstraZeneca’s, may explain why both have been linked to very rare brain blood clots in some vaccine recipients.

The United States last week paused distribution of the J&J vaccine to investigate six cases of a rare brain blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), accompanied by a low blood platelet count, in U.S. women under age 50, out of about 7 million people who got the shot.

The blood clots in patients who received the J&J vaccine bear close resemblance to 169 cases in Europe reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 34 million doses administered there.

Both vaccines are based on a new technology that uses a modified version of adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, as vectors to ferry instructions to human cells.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is scrutinizing this design behind both vaccines to see if it is contributing to the risk.

In a letter on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, J&J scientists refuted a case report published earlier this week by Kate Lynn-Muir and colleagues at the University of Nebraska, who asserted that the rare blood clots “could be related to adenoviral vector vaccines.”