Given the whole Johnson & Johnson pause in the US, I felt an extra edition was required this week. I love the US. But I know we don’t always pay much attention to the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s as if it didn’t happen here first, it never happened at all. It’s a bit crackers. Anyway, here’s a short worldview on the vax pause, which you may not realise is out there, that may help you.
There are 2 types of Covid vax. The m-RNA type, which is Pfizer and Moderna (2 doses of 0.5ml each). And the modified adenovirus type, which is AstraZeneca (2 doses of 0.5ml each) and Johnson & Johnson (1 dose, 0.3ml). The adeonvirus type can, in extremely rare cases, cause blood clots that can lead to death.
The rest of the world has been using AZ (and other adenovirus types vaxes). And the rest of the world noticed the blood clot issue, before J&J was really up and going and released in the US. So, yes, the CDC could have reasonably, logically assumed there might be a similar blood clot problem with the J&J once there was wider release. I assumed that and I’m not even a scientist.
Keep in mind, it’s a risk vs benefits scenario though. It’s an Emergency Use Authorization based on the deadly, fast-moving, worldwide pandemic. So, right to release J&J in the US? Yes. Right to watch for blood clots? Yes. Should the CDC have warned doctors and people getting J&J about the clot signs of symptoms before releasing J&J? Yes, just in case. It could have saved lives.
Other nations who use the AZ hit pause, re-evaluted and decided to give this type of vax to people over 50. In Canada, you can get this vax if you’re over 50, otherwise it’s Pfizer or Moderna. I expect the US CDC to do the same. Could the US CDC have done this beforehand? Yep. Why didn’t the CDC do this? I’m guessing, again, Public Health Emergency, they weren’t sure J&J might do this, and maybe they didn’t want unnecessarily to put off those willing to get a shot, but only 1 shot.
Anyway, there is a possible upside to all this. There was a pharmacist accident abroad with the AZ vax, wherein a group of people only got 1/2 a dose, or 0.25ml, instead of a full dose of AZ. Turns out, those folks had less symptoms and higher rates of vax effectiveness. There is some supposition that the AZ vax is actually too strong and that’s what causes the rare incidence of clot problem as well as the lower effectiveness for preventing mild and moderate illness.
They are are now conducting a study to see if using 1/2 doses of AZ is actually a better way to vax people. If it turns out to be so, that automatically improves safety (everyone could get it without fear of clots) and the world’s supply of AZ vaccine would double overnight. Good News, indeed. But what might this mean for J&J? It could mean the answer there is as simple as cutting the dose in 1/2 and making it a 2-dose vaccine.
If I were the CDC, I’d be trialing 2 J&J does of 0.15ml each. Maybe 28 days apart. I’d be starting that trial now, today. It wouldn’t double the world supply of J&J, but it could improve safety and allow expanded use, which would be a huge win for the world. And it could also really up the effectiveness against mild to moderate covid infections. And that would be a huge win for the world.
The AZ and J&J vaxes are great, wonderful things. They keep people out of hospital. They keep us out of hospital debt. They keep us alive. Yes, there’s a small chance someone could get infected with covid and experience a moderate sickness. But it’s not going to be a life-threatening sickness. That’s the choice here. Life and death. That’s why these very safe, very useful vaxes were approved for emergency use in a worldwide pandemic.
Would I get the AZ or J&J? If that’s all my country offered, yes I would. If I were in charge of a country, would I approve them for use? Yes in heart beat. I would also offer them to people over 18, with a sheet telling them about the clot signs and symptoms. If people want to choose that vaccine, after being informed of the very small risk and what to do if they have symptoms, I’m ok with that.
But like I said, I think the CDC will just do the 50+ as Canada and other nations are doing. And that’s great too. Lots of people over 50 still need a vaccine. And if J&J 1 dose is what they want, is all they will take, sure…give it to them. Please, just get yourself vaxed populi. Let’s stick it to Covid any way we can.
Ok. That’s all folks.