A committee of medical experts from the United States that advises the government approved this Thursday, December 16, to recommend the Pfizer and Moderna anticovid vaccines over that of Johnson & Johnson, given their less protection and greater risks.
The vote was unanimous (15-0) supporting the so-called “preferential recommendation”, which applies to all those over 18 years of age.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approved the measure on Thursday night, urging the population to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose against covid.
“Today’s updated recommendation emphasizes the CDC’s commitment to providing real-time scientific information to the American public,” Walensky said in a statement.
Officially, the recommendation diverts the population from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, praised in its early days because it could be stored at refrigerator temperature and offered good efficacy against the first strains of the coronavirus after a single dose.
But then evidence emerged linking it to a strange form of clots, especially among women of pregnant age, prompting authorities to stop its use and resume it again in April. Since then, it has remained a distant third vaccination option for Americans.
Furthermore, preliminary data from laboratory tests suggest that the injection offers very little protection against the new omicron variant, at least against infection.
“I would not recommend a Janssen vaccine to members of my family,” Beth Bell, a professor at the University of Washington, said of her vote, referring to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“On the other hand, I think that if we have to recognize that different people make different decisions and that, if they are properly informed, I do not think that option should be eliminated,” he completed.
The CDC called for a vote after more serious clotting cases emerged.
At least nine people have died from low platelet clots or thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) as of Dec. 9, with about 16 million doses of the vaccine administered, according to new figures released by the CDC.
54 cases were registered up to August 31 and 36 required admission to intensive care. Some of those who did not die had long-term effects such as paralysis.
The highest risk was detected in women between the ages of 30 and 49, where the TTS rate was close to one in 100,000.
But the risk is not limited to this demographic, with two out of every nine deaths occurring among men. The CDC indicated that the fatal count may be underestimated. Overall, about one in seven TTS cases have been fatal.
Sara Oliver, a CDC scientist, told a committee of independent experts that there are several options available to them, including voting to recommend against using the vaccine entirely.
But the expert committee agreed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should remain available to people who for whatever reason refuse to be immunized with the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, despite their greater efficacy and lower risks.
In addition, they also felt that recommending against the Johnson & Johnson vaccine entirely would send a negative signal to other parts of the world, where it may be the only option available.
“The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a lifesaving tool for people in high-risk populations,” argued Penny Heaton, chief of J&J vaccines for the global therapeutic area.