Speaking to White House reporters on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the Food and Drug Administration's decision to pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a risk of blood clots.
When asked, Fauci said "I don’t think it was pulling the trigger too quickly."
Fauci spoke as regards a couple of issues about the "pause" of the vaccine, noting that it gives a chance to see what's going on with the vaccine, and "to make physicians out there aware of this."
"If someone comes in" with the severe blood clot condition and they have received the vaccine, Fauci said, they should not be treated with heparin as that is known to be contra-indicated with the vaccine. The pause, he said, "is a signal out there to help the physicians."
As regards the efficacy of the vaccine itself, which has been distributed nearly 7 million times, he said that the blood clots would emerge 6-13 days after the vaccination, so those who received the vaccine outside of that time frame should not be concerned.
Fauci noted that the "pause" could have a negative affect on "people's attitudes about vaccines," saying that "you might know that there have been now 120 million people" who have received one dose of the vaccine. Most of these have been Pfizer and Moderna, and there "have been no red flags with those."
"This is a really rare event," Fauci said, going on to say that it's been "less than one in a million." The "pause" is out of an "abundance of caution."
Reporters were concerned, saying that the "pause" seemed like a pretty drastic step. Jeff Zients, the Biden administration's COVID czar, said that "we have plenty of supply," and that appointments that people have already made to get the vaccine would not be hindered by the lack of J&J, but would be filled with Pfizer and Moderna products.
Fauci said that "Our FDA is known for their capability of making sure that we have the safest products out there. And that's what I meant when I said 'an abundance of caution.'
"You want to make sure that safety is the important issue here. We are totally aware that this is a very rare event, we want to get this worked out as quickly as we possibly can, and that's why you see the word pause."
The FDA advisory committee will be meeting tomorrow to discuss what comes next with the J&J vaccine.
"That's one of the things that I think is such a good thing about our system here, is that we are ruled by the science, not by any other consideration."