The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held an emergency meeting Friday to discuss additional cases of a rare blood clot found in people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Fifteen cases of thrombocytopenia syndrome — which includes a potentially deadly cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism — were found among 8 million vaccinations as of Wednesday, Dr. Tom Shimabukuro told Fox News.
Of those 15 cases, 12 were identified as CVST with thrombocytopenia.
All of the reported cases were found in women aged 18-59, but other potential cases found in men are under review.
Symptoms include chills, fever, severe headaches and speech difficulty.
Six patients were treated with heparin, seven are hospitalized and five were discharged. Three patients died from TTS.
The CDC and FDA recommended temporarily pausing the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on April 13 after the rare blood clot was found in six women, ABC News reported.
The CDC’s advisory committee met Friday, 10 days after the pause, to discuss the risk of developing the rare blood clot and decide whether it will lift the pause.
The risk of developing the blood clot after the vaccine appears to be small, according to the data after 8 million vaccinations, while the risk of developing a blood clot from a COVID-19 infection is higher.
“We know that it’s not a good thing to leave the pause going for any longer than it absolutely has to go for,” said Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s top vaccine regulator, according to The New York Times.
“Once, essentially, the adequate discussion has occurred, we’re prepared to move as quickly as we possibly can.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides COVID immunity after one dose and can be stored at regular refrigeration temperatures.
“It just makes it more feasible for people in rural areas, people without a car or good public transportation, also prisoners and homebound populations,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Amesh Adalja told ABC.
Marks and Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said that the blood clotting disorder appeared as rare as they had hoped even though more cases have been discovered.
“We’ve now received more cases, but it isn’t an avalanche,” Woodcock said.
“We’re not seeing a big surge, which is a great relief.”
Adalja said that he hopes the pause is lifted soon so higher-risk people can be vaccinated.
“We’ll need to come up with innovative ways to bring those vaccines into harder-to-reach communities,” he said.
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