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17 Dec, 2021 00:22

CDC urges Americans to embrace mRNA vaccines

CDC urges Americans to embrace mRNA vaccines

The US health agency has recommended that people seeking vaccination for Covid-19 receive Pfizer or Moderna mRNA-based shots rather than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, due to the risk of blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed the recommendation of its advisory panel to designate the mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech the “preferred” vaccination option, citing newly-released data on the incidence of a severe but rare blood clot disorder in the adenovirus-based shot from Johnson & Johnson.

The drug behemoth has insisted that the benefits of its shot outweigh the risk of blood clots, and a company representative argued that while the maximum protection delivered by the vaccine comes later than that delivered by the mRNA shots, it also lasts longer.

Noting that the recommendation to shun Johnson & Johnson is based on “the latest evidence of vaccine effectiveness, vaccine safety and rare adverse events,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky nonetheless stated that “receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a hold on the J&J shots in April, after six women developed a rare blood clotting disorder within two weeks of being vaccinated. The CDC later revealed that nine more women had developed such clots, even while insisting that the chances of developing the disorder were extremely low. By the end of April, when the CDC recommended resuming the use of the vaccine, three of the women had died and seven were hospitalized.

There have been concerns over possible side effects from other vaccines as well. A trove of Pfizer documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FDA this month revealed that the mRNA-based vaccine manufacturer recorded nearly 160,000 adverse reactions in the first months of the rollout. This included thousands of nervous system disorders and a range of different autoimmune conditions and other ailments such as epilepsy, heart failure, and strokes. Over 1,200 reactions were fatal, the data indicated.

Doctors demanding further transparency on the part of the drug manufacturer may be out of luck, as the FDA recently argued that it might take them up until 2096 to process and release 451,000 pages of files studied in the vaccine’s approval. 

While the latest Omicron variant is said to be more resistant to the vaccines currently in use than previous variants, scientists believe the variant is milder than its predecessors. The White House’s top medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, has recently called into question speculation that the new variant would render the existing vaccines ineffective, saying that an Omicron-specific booster might be excessive.