More than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause on the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to reports of severe blood clots, a government advisory committee will meet again Friday to discuss next steps.
A number of experts said they expect the committee to lift the hold on the shot. Depending on what it learns about a mysterious blood clotting ailment, the committee might add an age restriction or simply a warning label to the vaccine.
“I want this vaccine back as soon as possible,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “I was recommending it preferentially to my friends. One and done.”
The vaccine was paused after reports of a rare combination of blood clots and low levels of platelets within two weeks of vaccination in six women out of the more than 7 million Americans who recently got the J&J shot, and one man from an earlier clinical trial. One of the women died, and another is hospitalized in critical condition.
Earlier this week, CDC head Rochelle Walensky said while the agency has received more reports of medical conditions, it was still investigating whether they were connected to the shots, and was not hearing about a substantial number of new cases.
Meanwhile, more than 40% of Americans have been at least partially vaccinated, ranking the U.S. near the top in vaccination rates, Our World In Data reports.
This comes as Michigan’s coronavirus case rate has begun to fall, dropping 12.5% over the last week, suggesting the state’s third surge — the worst in the U.S. — may be waning.
– Karen Weintraub, Nada Hassanein
Also in the news:
►A fire in Mumbai, India, killed 13 COVID-19 patients early Friday. The country recorded 2,263 deaths in the past 24 hours in the world’s worst coronavirus surge.
►The California State University and University of California systems jointly announced Thursday they will both require all students and staff returning for on-campus classes and activities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The requirement, however, will not take effect until one or more of the vaccines receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. UMass Amherst also reportedly joined the growing number of colleges requiring students to be vaccinated this fall.
►Data from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association shows that the number of children hospitalized in the state with severe COVID-19 symptoms rose 70 this week. That’s twice as many as were hospitalized during the worst days of the wave that swept the state in November, NBC reported.
►Colorado Gov. Jared Polis says the state has administered first doses of coronavirus vaccines to at least half of the eligible population and now needs to target people who have been hesitant to get a shot or have just procrastinated.
►South Africa will resume the administration of Johnson & Johnson shots to health care workers next week.
►Las Vegas strip clubs that went dark when Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered casinos, clubs and nonessential businesses closed more than a year ago can reopen May 1 at 80% capacity and under strict social distancing guidelines.
►COVID-19 hospitalizations among older Americans have plunged more than 70% since the start of the year, and deaths among them appear to have tumbled as well, dramatic evidence the vaccination campaign is working.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 31.93 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 570,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 144.8 million cases and 3 million deaths. Nearly 282.2 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and almost 219 million have been administered, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: As states expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow shots for 16- and 17-year-olds, teens in rural America may have trouble getting them. Read more here.
As rich countries buy excess vaccine doses, poor countries struggle to vaccinate, study shows
The world’s richest countries have collectively bought 1 billion more doses than their citizens need, according to a study by the global advocacy group ONE. The rest of the world has only been able to secure 2.5 billion doses — not enough to vaccinate their populations.
Some are calling on the U.S. to share doses with other countries, like India, which reported a global one-day record of more than 332,700 new infections Friday as a coronavirus surge in the world’s second-most populous country overwhelms a fragile health care system critically short of hospital beds and oxygen.
The Biden administration has said it will share surplus coronavirus vaccine doses with Canada and Mexico.
CDC investigating woman’s death after J&J vaccine
Oregon health officials said Thursday that federal officials are investigating the death of a woman in her 50s who developed a rare blood clot and low platelets within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19.
Federal officials already were examining six reports of the unusual clots, including a death, out of more 8 million Americans given the one-dose vaccination so far.
The woman developed a “rare but serious blood clot in combination with very low platelets,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement.
Texas health officials also say the U.S. government has reported that a Texas woman is hospitalized with possible blood clots associated with Johnson and Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine.
The announcement by Texas quotes the FDA and CDC as saying the adult woman has “symptoms that appear to be consistent with those few other reported cases” of a rare blood clotting disorder developed after receiving the J&J vaccine. No other information is being released, because of patient privacy and confidentiality.
COVID-19 hate crimes bill to fight Asian American discrimination passes Senate
The Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support a hate crimes bill to address a drastic increase in violence and discrimination directed at Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act cleared the chamber in a 94-1 vote Thursday. It would expedite the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes and would designate an official at DOJ the department to oversee the effort.
It also would task the department with coordinating with local law enforcement groups and community-based organizations to facilitate and raise awareness about hate crime reporting, including establishing an online hate crime reporting system in multiple languages.
The legislation, which now heads to the Democratic-led House, is one of the few bills to pass this Senate with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Many Democrats expected a legislative fight but Republicans signaled early their willingness to compromise on the legislation, and senators from both parties have been negotiating for weeks.
– Savannah Behrmann
Contributing: The Associated Press