Fast Tracking Vaccine Led to Johnson & Johnson Version Being Paused

Huge vial of medicine
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Huge vial of medicine

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a global race to develop and distribute vaccines as quickly as possible. One of the vaccines that was fast-tracked was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2021. However, the vaccine faced controversy and questions about its effectiveness, which led to a temporary halt in its use.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a single-dose vaccine and considered a promising option for the U.S. vaccination campaign as it didn't require ultra-cold storage, which made it easier to distribute to rural and remote areas. However, after a small number of recipients developed a rare and severe blood clotting disorder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recommended a temporary pause on the use of the vaccine.

The clotting disorder, called Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST), occurred in combination with low platelets, which affected mostly women under 60, and was found to be more common in younger women.

After a thorough investigation, both the CDC and FDA cleared the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use again on April 23, 2021 with a warning that the vaccine could cause a rare but serious blood clot disorder, but also determined that the vaccine's benefits outweighed the risk of serious clotting disorders.

The situation with Johnson & Johnson vaccine highlighted the complexities of fast-tracking a vaccine during a pandemic. While it was important to move quickly to combat the spread of the virus, it was also essential to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. The pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson was a cautionary tale. It also gave a lot of fuel to the anti-vaccine crowd, who thought that the vaccines were too unproven to widely adopt.

Entire books will be written around the way that we developed and rolled out the vaccines, the way anybody who questioned why people should take them if they are still going to be susceptible to the virus was struck down and silenced, and the way some employers forced employees to get vaccinated against their better judgements as a condition of employment. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine missteps will be just a single chapter in those book.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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