Following the news that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a joint statement calling for an immediate pause to the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine;
Emily Martyn, MPH, Infectious Diseases Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:
“This pause for J&J is another terrible blow to global vaccination efforts – especially followed by J&J’s delayed Europe rollout, Australia’s decision to decline use of the vaccine altogether, and the recent troubles seen by AstraZeneca. GlobalData believes that these developments will hamper current international vaccination efforts both in terms of available vaccine and decreased public confidence. US COVID-19 vaccine rollouts are also likely to see slowdown.
“Further exacerbating the situation, these developments arose less than two weeks after 15 million doses of the J&J vaccine were disposed due to a human error mix up between ingredients at a production plant in Maryland, US. As a result of the delayed production of new doses, and postponed approval until the FDA completes its investigation into the issue, the US Government has reduced the allocation of the J&J vaccine from five million doses to just 700,000 doses for the week commencing Monday 12 April. In aggregate, this has been a disastrous week for anyone hoping that J&J’s single-dose vaccine would rapidly help quell the outbreak.
“With variants of SARS-CoV-2 such as B.117 spreading rapidly through Europe, slowing the outbreak and reducing the incidence of new COVID-19 cases will depend heavily on vaccination efforts. Continued vaccination of vulnerable people is urgently needed to prevent severe cases and deaths from COVID-19. While there are few alternatives to the J&J vaccine, vaccine hesitancy is a public health issue of significant importance.
“J&J and AstraZeneca’s vaccines both utilize an adenoviral vector platform, which might be why both have similar side effects.”