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COVID-19: US CDC Panel Recommends Pfizer or Moderna Vaccines Over J&J

Most Americans should get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines against COVID-19 instead of Jansen’s vaccine Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which on rare occasions can cause serious clots, recommended a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from the United States.

The unusual clotting problem has caused nine confirmed deaths in people who received vaccines from J&J, while those from Pfizer or Moderna carry no such risk and also appear to be more effective, said advisers to the CDC.

It is an unusual advertisement. Now CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has to decide whether to accept the panel’s recommendation or not.

So far, the United States has said that the three vaccines available in the country represent equal options, as large-scale studies showed that all three offer good protection and initial supplies were limited.

The J&J vaccine was initially welcomed as a single-dose option that could be particularly important for hard-to-serve groups, such as the homeless who may not receive the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna injections.

But the CDC advisory panel said Thursday that it was time to acknowledge that much has changed since the vaccines began shipping a year ago. More than 200 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated, including about 16 million with J&J.

New data revealed in an unprecedented safety scan of all of these vaccines convinced the panel that while clots linked to J & J’s vaccine remain highly rare, they are still occurring, and not just in young women, as was originally believed. .

In a unanimous vote, the advisers decided that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, considered safer, are preferable. However, they noted that the vaccine made by J & J’s Janssen division should still be available if someone really wants it, or has a severe allergy to the other options.

“I wouldn’t recommend the Janssen vaccine to my family members,” but some patients could — and should be able to — choose it, said Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington, a CDC adviser.

The clot problem was first detected last spring with the J&J vaccine in the United States and with a similar vaccine made by AstraZeneca, which is used in other countries.

Ultimately, regulators in the United States decided that the benefits of J & J’s single-dose vaccine outweighed what was considered a highly unusual risk, as long as the people who received it were alerted.

Similarly, European regulators continued to recommend the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine, although – because the first reports of clots were mainly in young women – some countries restricted it to certain age groups.

COVID-19 also causes blood clots. But those linked to the vaccine are different, and are believed to form due to a faulty immune reaction to the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines due to their manufacturing process.

They form in unusual places, such as the veins that drain blood from the brain, and in patients who also develop an abnormally low level of the platelets that form clots. Symptoms of these thrombi include severe headaches — not right away, but a week or two after getting the shot — as well as abdominal pain and nausea.

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