Despite weeks of growing vaccinations and good news, headlines about blood clots and a “pause” in deploying the much-anticipated Johnson & Johnson shots have people worried.
Atlantic science writer Katherine J. Wu joins hosts James Hamblin and Maeve Higgins on the podcast Social Distance to explain the situation. Listen to their conversation here:
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What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for length and clarity:
Maeve Higgins: You wrote about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause recently. Could you fill us in on what happened?
Katherine J. Wu: First, to put it in perspective: This was identified very quickly and then addressed very quickly. And that is all a good thing. But basically the situation is: The CDC and FDA reported that they had picked up on six cases of a very specific kind of blood clot in six women under the age of 50. They detected the blood clot in these women within about two weeks of when they had gotten their Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And this is out of nearly 7 million people in the United States who have gotten these vaccines.
So it is a very, very low number of cases so far. More certainly could emerge. But this was enough for federal health officials to say: Hey, this is concerning. We are seeing really the same problem arising in all six of these people. We should stop and take a look. And to be really clear here, what’s going on is a pause. They are literally hitting the pause button here and saying: Let’s get some time, evaluate the data, consult our experts, figure out what’s going on, and critically give doctors the information they need to detect these symptoms in patients and then treat them with the right therapies.