A key meeting is happening on Friday to determine if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be allowed to resume use in the United States.
So, who is meeting and how will they make their decision? The CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices, known as a CIP, will meet from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The panel is made up of 15 experts from outside of the CDC with expertise in a range of specialties including vaccinology, immunology, infectious diseases, public health and pediatrics.
At an emergency meeting last week, the advisory committee members wanted more information on the blood clots seen in six women who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“They will see data on the new cases that may have come in since the six cases that were initially reported. They’re also going to review data that we will be providing them on the risk and benefits analysis, the benefits of having a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, versus the very, very rare events that we have detected,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
The key question is: Do the benefits of vaccinating millions against COVID-19 outweigh the risk of a one in a million severe side effect?
“We brought the issue to the FDA, to the European regulators’ attention. We want to make sure that we’re thorough in terms of our analysis to understand what caused some of these issues. I think part of that response will be diagnosis and awareness as well as appropriate treatment,” Executive VP and CFO of Johnson & Johnson Joseph Wolk said.
The European Medicines Agency has already recommended resuming the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine with an added warning about the risk of blood clots and the best ways to treat them.
The CDC advisory committee could recommend lifting the pause in the U.S., in which case they will certainly recommend adding warnings about the risk of blood clots.
They could also recommend limiting the use of the vaccine to those over a certain age, as some countries have done with the Astrazeneca vaccine. Or they could choose to extend the pause, although that is not expected.
For some people, the damage is already done in terms of public confidence in the vaccine.