Sunday, April 25, 2021

Was the J & J Vaccine Pause Necessary?

 I am not a public health expert.  But I have learned this past year that one need not have any public health knowledge in order issue advice and opinions.  How ‘bout some hydroxychloroquine with a bleach chaser?

I trust our public health experts and have largely hewed to their advice, although I’m not sure that they have hit the bullseye every time.  As expected, they have modified their advice over time in response to new knowledge.  This is not a flip-flop – this is how science works.

And millions of folks have completely rejected their advice for all kinds of reasons.  We’ve all seen photos of patrons who were piled into bars or kids on spring break who were recklessly partying on.  Masks optional.

Others, in contrast, were pushing back on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arguing that the rules were not strict enough.  We’ve seen the teachers’ unions refuse to return to classrooms despite CDC guidance assuring that it was safe to do so, as long as proper mitigation strategies were in place.   It seemed that teachers were not satisfied with the prospect of low risk; they wanted no risk.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was placed on pause after a handful of recipients developed serious blood clots in the brain.  As of this writing there have been 15 cases out of nearly 8 million people who were vaccinated.  You can do the basic math and calculate what the odds of suffering this serious event would be.  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s about 1 in 500,000.

First, there is yet no conclusive proof that the vaccine is responsible for these blood clots.

J & J Vaccines Can Kill!

I think that pausing the vaccine, which was heralded by highly charged public health expert warnings which were further heightened by the media, was disproportionate to the facts.  This issue was not reported in proper perspective.  Even if the vaccine were directly responsible for the blood clots, this risk is miniscule compared to the known benefits of the vaccine.  The J & J vaccine is extremely effective and reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.  

We need some rationality here.  If we pull back from an activity that has a 1 in 500,000 chance of a catastrophe, does it make sense if we still engage in so many other activities that have similar odds? Feel free to research your risk of a serious car accident, getting struck by lightning, taking a new medication, undergoing routine surgery, traveling abroad, participating in high school or college athletics, riding a motorcycle, camping in the wilderness, swimming in the ocean and various other activities that we all routinely engage in.

A dose of perspective and proportionality if you please?

Couldn’t our health experts have simply announced that they were rigorously monitoring an extremely rare and unproven side effect of the J & J vaccine, but that all of the evidence overwhelmingly showed that the benefits far outweighed the risks?  Instead, they announced a ‘pause’ which may have cost lives and scared everyone.  Was this a pause in good judgment?








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