US may pause J&J coronavirus vaccines due to rare cases of blood clots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are recommending a pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. after six people developed a rare and severe type of blood clot within two weeks of vaccination. 

More than 6.8 million people have been given the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine in the U.S. so far, according to the CDC. 

“Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare,” Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said in a statement. “We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.”

On Wednesday, the CDC will convene a meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to review these cases, according to the statement.

All six cases of blood clots occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, who developed symptoms 6 to 13 days after vaccination, according to the statement. All six developed a rare type of blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) along with low levels of blood platelets. 

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Treatment for this type of blood clot is different than the typical anticoagulant drug called heparin used to treat blood clots, according to the statement. “In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.”

The pause comes after multiple countries in Europe paused the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (which is made from the same technology as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) following several rare reports of CVST blood clots. Most countries have resumed administering the AstraZeneca shot but with various age restrictions and guidelines, according to NBC News.

Originally published on Live Science.

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