Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Is the FDA overestimating the risks of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?

No one knows for sure yet whether the FDA made the right call in pausing the usage of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, but the agency is already facing criticism for poor risk assessment and shortsightedness. Some state officials are worried the decision will increase vaccine hesitancy, regardless of which shot people are set to receive. "There's nothing we can do to restore confidence," one GOP state official told CBS News.

Nearly 7 million doses of the single-shot vaccine have been administered in the United States, and there are six reported cases of recipients developing a rare and severe type of blood clot. Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and professor at Brown University, tweeted on Tuesday that a connection is "plausible," but even if it turns out to be real, she added, the risk is still far lower than the risk of developing a blood clot from a COVID-19 infection, which may be as high as 20 percent.

Blood clots are also a side effect of other medications, including birth control pills, reports Business Insider, writing that "as many as one in every 100 women taking birth control over a period of 10 years can experience a clot," as compared to less than one in a million, though they're typically a different type of clot.

As Ranney put it, "science and medicine ... is full of weighing risks vs. benefits." She acknowledged there may be legitimate concerns about whether certain groups of people — perhaps younger women — should receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But, overall, she argues the shot's benefits are too great to give up right now. Tim O'Donnell

Editor's note: This article's information on blood clots associated with birth control pills has been updated.