Is the J&J Vaccine Too Good to Be True?
Author: Refah Reza
COVID-19 has taken over all of our lives, with the spread of the contagious virus dictating various aspects of all of our lives. For months now, people all across the world have switched to online school, switched to working remotely, and many people have been struggling financially because of the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Recently, lots of vaccines have been developed that are acting to curb the spread of the virus. In the US, this includes the Moderna, Pfizer vaccines, and of late, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
There are a few notable differences between these COVID-19 vaccines. For instance, the J&J vaccine only requires one dose unlike the other two options. The J&J vaccine works a little differently from the other two vaccines as well. While Moderna and Pfizer both use mRNA to encode the spike protein SARS-CoV-2, the J&J vaccine uses DNA. You can read more about the differences between the three and why the J&J only requires one dose here.
Controversies with the Vaccine
However, the J&J vaccine recently was put under investigation due to a rare blood clotting disorder that 6 patients developed. All of the patients were female, and out of those 6, one woman died. This has sparked controversies all over the world, as countries like Australia, the UK, and South Africa were next in line to start the roll-out of the single-dose vaccine. South Africa, who is currently facing a breakout of an extremely contagious strain of COVID-19, still decided to postpone the administration of the vaccine. This raised the question among many scientists and experts: Should we really hold back when the development of this disorder is extremely rare?
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Harms?
Based on this concern, on Friday, April 23, 2021, the CDC advisory panel reccommended the continued use of the J&J vaccine. They stated that the benefits outweighed the risks, especially because the J&J vaccine is extremely necessary in places where not everyone would have access to traveling twice for two doses, and for places that don’t have reliable transportation with refrigeration. Additionally, Dr. Joanne Waldstreicher, J&J’s chief medical officer, stated that 1 million administrations of the J&J vaccine would lead to 2,000 fewer deaths to the coronavirus and 6,000 fewer hospitalizations as opposed to the 7 rare blood-clotting disorder developments per 1 million administrations.
Vaccines are extremely important, especially right now. While Johnson and Johnson may not be for you because of the risks associated with it, please consider getting yourself vaccinated with the other available options wherever you live. After all, going back to normal sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
Author: Refah Reza
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"Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Paused After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge". Nytimes.Com, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/us/politics/johnson-johnson-vaccine-blood-clots-fda-cdc.html. Accessed 24 Apr 2021.
Lovelace, Berkeley. “CDC Panel Recommends U.S. Resume Use of J&J Covid Vaccine, Saying Benefits Outweigh Risks.” CNBC, CNBC, 23 Apr. 2021, www.cnbc.com/2021/04/23/jj-covid-vaccine-cdc-panel-recommends-resuming-use-of-jj-vaccine-.html.