The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on February 27. Over 7.5 million doses of the vaccine were subsequently given.
On April 13, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a pause in administering J&J’s vaccine due to six reports at that time of a rare blood clot in the brain developing after a person received a vaccine dose. The pause was ended on April 23 after officials at the agencies reviewed data on the cases of blood clots.
Americans deserve to have confidence in the vaccines they are relying upon to end the pandemic and resume normal life. Therefore, it is important to understand the reasons for the temporary pause in the J&J vaccine and any possible risks going forward. Accordingly, members of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health were recently briefed by FDA officials. I led the Republican members on the call.
At the time the pause was lifted, a total of fifteen cases of blood clots had been observed in women between ages eighteen and 59, with the symptoms taking place between six and fifteen days after vaccination. To underscore the rarity of the condition, that is fifteen out of the 7.5 million single-shot doses. Officials told us that the primary reasoning behind the pause was to ensure that medical professionals knew not to prescribe heparin, a blood thinner that is often used to treat blood clots but can be deadly when taken with this type of clot.
After studying the data, the FDA and CDC determined that the J&J vaccine still meets standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness. These fifteen individual cases of blood clots related to the vaccine must be weighed against the more than 500,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, as well as the coronavirus’ many side effects.
In fact, one out of every six people who recover from COVID apparently develop blood clots in their legs afterward. Medical professionals have told me that they have observed a link between serious viruses generally, including the coronavirus, and these blood clots.
If you are concerned about side effects of the vaccine, talk to a medical professional. Staying vigilant for side effects in the two weeks after vaccination and letting your doctor know of any that may arise limit the chances of serious complications.
The President’s Climate Summit: A Missed Opportunity
President Biden recently convened a virtual summit of heads of government from around the world to discuss the climate. Did anything productive emerge from the meeting?
Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no. President Biden has already chosen to reenter the Paris climate agreement which President Trump had rightly decided to leave, and instead of using the summit to call for greater carbon emission reductions from countries such as China and India, he unilaterally committed the United States to unrealistic goals.
The centerpiece of the summit was President Biden’s announcement that the United States would cut emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
This goal is unlikely to be met. It would require a major buildup in renewable energy capacity beyond what currently exists, as well as a buildout of high-voltage power lines to carry that power. These projects would take decades, but President Biden set his goal for the end of this decade.
Furthermore, while carbon emissions from the United States have already been trending downward, the Paris agreement calls for China, currently the world’s biggest polluter, only to begin cutting emissions in 2030. Chinese President Xi Jinping merely used the climate summit to reaffirm this goal rather than set a new one. President Biden expects Americans to bear this burden when Chinese actions will more than offset it.
President Biden’s climate summit did not show leadership, only a renewed commitment to the failed approaches of the past. His actions will hurt American jobs with little or no net benefit for the environment.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671 or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.