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J&J vaccine. Let’s take it down a notch.

The J&J vaccine has been put on hold because it appears to cause blood clots in some women.

Let’s put this in perspective. There have been 6.8 Million doses of the J&J vaccine administered so far. The number of serious blood clots is…

…wait for it…

…it’s worth the wait…


Yes, that’s right. The number of women who have gotten the J&J vaccine that have gotten serious blood clots from the vaccine is 6 people, and possibly 3 others.

Is this serious? Yes, especially if you are female and happen to get a blood clot from the vaccine.

The good news is that this reaction is extremely rare. Do the math. (6/6,800,000) (100) = approximately .0001%.

Yes, it was good to hit pause because the blood clots show up 13-18 days after inoculation. So, there are probably more clots that will be discovered. Still, you’re chances of dying from Covid are 2000 times greater. (200 times greater? Somebody check my math for me please but I think that’s right. Anyway, it’s a lot.)

There is some good news. We partially know what’s causing it. There is an association between the likelihood of getting the clots and low platelet counts, which seems counterintuitive to me but what do I know? I’m not a hematologist or cardiovascular expert. I’m just a humble ex-Labrat who can explain the excruciating minutiae behind the structural changes for the variants. And no one wants to read about that.

It should be noted that the J&J vaccine is built on older technology. It’s an adenovirus vaccine with a synthesized DNA sequence that encodes for part of the Covid 19 protein. I think it’s just the spike protein. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines also result in the production of the spike protein but they use a direct introduction of mRNA. The thing that might be driving this may be the adenovirus- plasmid thingy method of delivery itself though I have no idea what the mechanism might be. Since the astra-Zeneca vaccine uses similar technology and is also triggering blood clots, it looks like there *might* be a trend.

This kind of news is to be expected. It happens with the best of FDA approved therapeutics. You can only do a reasonable sample size on any drug to gather the data you need for an approval. The number of tests in a safety profile has increased substantially over the past few decades. This has resulted in much safer drugs and a whole lot of researchers out of work. (It’s a complicated relationship. I’ve written about it before. Let’s just say that no R&D professional goes into this kind of work expecting to create dangerous drugs.)

It’s unavoidable that once an approved therapeutic gets into the general population, someone, somewhere, with just the right combination of genetics and/or medical factors is going to have an “adverse event”. I think that once the medical professionals identify what may be triggering the blood clots, there will probably be screening prior to vaccination. We’ll just have to see what form that screening will take. Or maybe they’ll offer the J&J vaccine to men and the other vaccines to women. Who knows? I’m not an epidemiologist.

What I do know is time is of the essence with the B.1.1.7 variant spreading like wildfire so I’m betting that this “pause” will be short lived. We’re going to have to wait at least another 13-18 days for more data to come in.

By the way, there is already a question about whether you are on blood thinners before you get the Covid vaccine. It was on the form to get the Pfizer vaccine even though there is no association between mRNA vaccines and clots so far. I still don’t want to hear about your reasons for not getting a shot. You can always get one of the two mRNA vaccines until the J&J issue is resolved.

Oh, look, they’re already on it: Why Would a Covid Vaccine Cause Rare Blood Clots? Researchers Have Found Clues.