The United States can immediately resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine, top health regulators said on Friday, ending a 10-day pause to investigate its link to extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration said the risks of experiencing the syndrome involving severe blood clots and low platelets as a result of the vaccine was very low. They found 15 cases in the 8 million shots given.
“We are no longer recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a news briefing. “Based on the in-depth analysis, there is likely an association but the risk is very low.”
Top U.S. FDA officials said the decision was effective immediately, clearing the way for shots in arms as early as Saturday. The agency said it would warn of the risk in an updated fact sheet given to vaccine recipients and providers.
The agencies made the decision following a meeting of outside advisers to the CDC who recommended that the vaccine pause be ended.
In an analysis presented at the meeting, CDC staff said that the cases of the syndrome that they had found occurred at a rate of seven per one million doses in women under age 50, with the highest risk occurring among women ages 30 to 39.
For women over age 50 and for all men, the clots appeared at a rate of one per one million doses, the analysis showed. In all, there were three deaths, officials said.
After a day-long meeting, the CDC panel voted 10-4 that the J&J vaccine be used as recommended in people 18 years of age and older, the parameters of its current FDA authorization.
Dr. Jesse Goodman, an infectious disease expert at Georgetown University in Washington and a former chief scientist at the FDA, said the risk was not trivial, but still small.
“But we should keep it in perspective. I mean the risk of dying from a car accident in your life is something like one in 100, the risk of being struck by lightning is something like one in 15,000,” Goodman said.
Unlike the highly effective vaccines by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), which require two doses and must be kept frozen at ultra-cold temperatures, J&J’s vaccine can be given in a single dose and stored at regular refrigeration temperatures, making it a better option for hard-to-reach areas.
Johnson & Johnson shares closed up 0.2% at $165.52.
“We will collaborate with health authorities around the world to educate healthcare professionals and the public to ensure this very rare event can be identified early and treated effectively,” J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said in a statement after the agencies made their announcement.
When the agencies first announced the pause, they urged doctors to avoid using the blood thinner heparin, commonly given to patients to break up blood clots, in people who had received the J&J vaccine and were experiencing blood clots and low blood platelets.
In the cases of the vaccine-induced blood clots, however, heparin appears to make the condition worse. Walensky said doctors heeded that warning, noting that the drug had not been used in any of the cases identified after the pause began.
The U.S. decision follows a similar one by the European Medicines Agency, which on Tuesday said the benefits of the J&J shot outweighed its risks and recommended adding a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelet counts to the vaccine’s product label. J&J resumed its rollout there.
The J&J probe followed an investigation in Europe of the AstraZeneca PLC(AZN.L) vaccine, with which similar cases of blood clots were first identified. Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA said the cases appear so similar that a doctor would not be able to tell which vaccine caused them.
Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccine use different versions of a cold virus to deliver instructions for making coronavirus proteins into cells to produce an immune response. Marks said studies are underway to determine whether the adenovirus or something else is behind the rare blood clots.
Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the J&J vaccine will help advance the vaccination effort.
“Giving people the choice to receive a single-dose vaccine will help get more people vaccinated faster and will better protect some populations, such as those who are homeless or incarcerated,” Moss said by email.
J&J has faced several setbacks since its vaccine gained U.S. emergency authorization in February, including drawing scrutiny overproduction shortfalls.
In the United States, 35% of adults are fully vaccinated and 53% have received at least one shot, according to CDC data. The United States leads the world with roughly 570,000 COVID-19 deaths.
This former U.N. Ambassador wants America to save the world again
Former ambassador to the United Nations and administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power recently expressed her wishes to bring back America’s prestige by administering vaccines all over the world. This ambitious goal requires the revival of USAID’s capacity and influence to help other nations recover from this pandemic.
Created in 1961 under the John F. Kennedy administration, USAID was an independent agency of the American Federal Government, tasked to deliver foreign aid, as well as development assistance. The agency has been a major force in providing disaster and poverty relief for low-income countries. USAID also focuses on environmental and world issues along with U.S. national interests and socioeconomic development. Unfortunately, USAID has lost much authority in the global arena after the 60’s, as governments started focusing on other
Last month, Samantha Power was confirmed as administrator for USAID through a 68-26 vote by the U.S. Senate. Even though this is her first time working for the agency, her experience in the humanitarian field and as a diplomat is most valuable for the government. Her wisdom working as a U.N. ambassador under Obama’s term, back to her beginnings as a war correspondent in Bosnia is a beacon of light in these dark times.
Power believes that this dream to, once again, bring American aid to poor nations could become true if USAID “is unleashed to design programs around getting vaccines into arms in countries where we’ve worked for generations, for 60 years.” She also believes that, unlike China which relies heavily on big funding, USAID will instead utilize a more grassroots approach.
The cooperation between the private sector and non-governmental organizations, will be a powerful force behind this project. Because America is a free country where information flows without oppressive regulations, the internet will be an important tool in disseminating information.
During her remarks at her USAID welcome ceremony, she shared her experiences and the struggles that she has witnessed all over the world. Citing America’s remarkable role during times of global adversity.
“I saw it firsthand during the Ebola outbreak that ravaged West Africa in 2014 and gripped the rest of the world in fear. It was America’s willingness to step into the breach and deploy a whole-of-government effort with USAID at its core that changed the world, that moved the world. Because America led, because USAID led, the United States was able to rally a coalition of 60 countries to contribute on the ground and secure 134 co-sponsors for a resolution at the UN Security Council, declaring the epidemic a threat to international peace and security,” Powers said in her speech last April.
This Democrat Thinks Defunding the Police is a Wrong Idea
The unfortunate events last May 25, 2020 which led to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a few irresponsible policemen, sparked an endless stream of protests on the streets. It was a chaotic season that has drowned out the underlying coronavirus crisis. Aside from the trending fad that is “Black Lives Matter,” the other famous battle cry was “defund the police.”
NY City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said in a debate yesterday, that defunding the police isn’t the right approach in New York. He also stressed that these cops need to be told that their city needs them. Fair enough, America is full of good policemen and women on duty, doing their best to protect the citizens by being on the lookout for criminals. For Yang, removing the bad apples while giving the better ones the needed appreciation and motivation, is the correct thing to do.
“The first thing I’d do as mayor is go to our police force and say that ‘Your city needs you. Your city needs you to do your jobs professionally, responsibly and justly.’ But the police are going to be a core way for us to address the public safety concerns that so many New Yorkers have. And let me be clear, defund the police is the wrong approach for New York City,” said Yang.
Andrew Yang suggested reforming the country’s policing methods, which will include forming anti-violence units within the community. These units will be used to enforce safety, by searching for mischievous elements and preventing them from further creating trouble.
“These are some of the practices that would help make our people safer, but you have to start by saying to the police very clearly that you are vital to our city’s recovery because there is no recovery without public safety,” Yang stated.
The issue of police funding is a hotly debated topic today and an issue that is not very easy to solve. We do understand that crime can only be prevented if society starts from the root by giving young people better options in life. We know that the world is a better place when compassion takes over violence. However, evil is everywhere today and sometimes force is necessary to prevent or pacify that which could hurt innocent citizens.
The best thing to do is to improve the training of the police force. Perhaps they can revise their ways of handling and de-escalating threatening individuals. Providing them knowledge and training is of utmost importance and that too will require a great deal of funding.
Lockheed Martin Withdraws F-16 Crew from Iraqi Air Base
Due to recent militia rocket attacks, U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin will withdraw their F-16 fighter jets’ maintenance crew from Balad Air Base in Iraq. Balad is the base of the Iraqi Air Force and is situated in the Sunni Triangle, 40 miles north of the capital city of Baghdad.
“In coordination with the U.S. government and with employee safety as our top priority, Lockheed Martin is relocating our Iraq-based F-16 team. “We value our partnership with the Iraqi Air Force and will continue to work with the Iraq and U.S. governments to ensure mission success going forward,” Lockheed said in an official statement.
Back in February 2020, Lockheed also pulled out their workers from the same airbase after top Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasim Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. Fears of retribution and prolonged conflict with Iran, prompted Lockheed to secure their team under the State Department’s guidance.
For the past months, other federal contractors have already withdrawn from the region. This information was divulged in a Defense Department Inspector General report that was published recently. There is a huge possibility, according to sources, that Lockheed will continue to assist the Iraqi air force remotely.
Back in November last year, the White House made an announcement that thousands of troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan while a force of 2,500 crews will remain in both countries. Donald Trump’s administration back then, wanted all remaining American troops out by the spring of 2021.
In an interview with the media, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said “by May, it is President Trump’s hope that they will all come home safely — and in their entirety. I want to reiterate that this policy is not new. This has been the president’s policy since he took office.”
About 7,000 American service members were killed since the war in the middle east commenced as a result of the 9/11 attacks on American soil. During his presidential campaign in 2016, Donald Trump made a promise to end the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He delivered well during his term, however, the process is a complicated one that requires a lot of effort. Aside from the fact that a total pullout of troops would take a long time to undertake, there are still many legitimate dangers to contend with, even during less chaotic times in the middle east.
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