The decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of reports 6 women suffered blood clots most likely will be short-lived, and it actually could stop people from hesitating to get their shots, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the decision to pasue the vaccine.
"The very fact that you have an organization, two organizations, the CDC and the FDA, looking so carefully at this, making safety the primary concern, in my mind, confirms or underscores the situation that we take safety very seriously," Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser and heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC's "Today" show.
"So I would think, at the end of the day, it could actually diminish hesitancy by saying, boy, those people there, they're looking at that really carefully. When they say something is safe, you can believe it is safe. So it goes both ways."
Fauci said he believes the pause will only take "days to weeks, as opposed to weeks to months" and called it a "rare occurrence. The pause is just an abundance of caution to scope out the situation a little bit more closely."
However, he acknowledged there "certainly could be" a connection between the clotting issues observed with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Astra Zeneca's vaccine overseas, as there are "a lot of similarities."
Fauci said people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not "worry very much" because the clotting issue is "very, very rare."
Also, since the reactions occurred between 6 and 13 days after the 6 women affected got their shots, people who received their vaccines several weeks ago are less likely to have any concern
"If you've had [the shot] within a few days, just stay heads-up for symptoms, severe headache, abdominal pain, chest pain, things like that," Fauci said. "But again, underscoring, it is a very, very rare event. You don't want people who have just received the vaccine to be overly worried about this. This is a rare occurrence. The pause is just an abundance of caution to scope out the situation a little bit more closely."
Fauci, also appearing on CNN, slammed comments made by Fox News' Tucker Carlson, while discussing vaccine hesitancy, saying that there is no reason for people who have been vaccinated to wear a mask, and that maybe the vaccine doesn't work.
"That's just a typical crazy conspiracy theory," Fauci said. "Why wouldn't we tell people it works? Look at the data. The data is overwhelming in the 3 vaccines used in an emergency use and emergency use authorization, the J&J, Pfizer, and Moderna, you had 30,000, 44,000, and 40,000 people in the clinical trial with an overwhelming signal efficacy. So I don't have any idea what he's talking about."
He added that he didn't want to get into arguments about Carlson, but added comments such as his run "counter to trying to protect the safety and health of the American public."
Fauci said it is "understandable" why some people want to wait to see how the vaccine rolls out, and that's natural, but people should look at the data.
"Right now, we have close to 120 million, 130 million people who have already received at least one dose of this," he said. "That's a lot of people. How long do you want to wait and see? You have almost half the country who has received at least one dose. I think we've had enough wait and see."
Still, there is a race to get as many people vaccinated as possible while the vaccine is trying to surge again, as the numbers are creeping up again to around 80,000 new infections a day.
"That's a very high number," he said. "As we get more and more people, 3 million to 4 million people per day vaccinated, the vaccine component of this is going to get stronger and then you're going to see the cases come down."
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