After 10 days, the pause on the J&J vaccine has been lifted. According to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, there have been about 1.9 cases of severe blood clotting per million people who had received the J&J vaccine. It has been re-authorized for use in people aged 18 and older, now with an addendum to the label and fact sheet warning of the risk of blood clots:
It’s important to note that at time of writing (April 24) only some states have already resumed its use. (These are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, and Virginia.) However, this is coinciding with a larger trend of states ordering fewer vaccine doses.
The J&J vaccine’s return is probably good news for the rest of the world as well. Combined with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the J&J vaccine was supposed to be one of the big players in the global fight against COVID-19. But the U.S. pause raised concerns for vaccine diplomacy and the global rollout—J&J had also paused its European distribution, South Africa announced they were putting J&J distribution on a temporary hiatus, and Australia said it wouldn’t purchase any J&J doses. Resuming distribution in the U.S., which can act as a bellwether for which vaccines are seen as desirable abroad, might allay concerns about safety abroad.
More vaccine coverage
- Cash incentives for vaccination have little impactWhile politicians at all levels have praised cash incentives, research has shown that this strategy has little impact on actually convincing Americans to get vaccinated. A recent investigation I worked on (at the Documenting COVID-19 project and the Missouri Independent) provides new evidence for this trend: the state of Missouri allocated $11 million for gift cards that residents could get upon receiving their first or second vaccine dose, but the vast majority of local health departments opted not to participate in the program—and a very small number of gift cards have been distributed thus far.
- Vaccines aren’t enough: What Biden can do about OmicronThis past Monday, President Biden said in a speech, “We’re throwing everything we can at this virus, tracking it from every angle.” Which I, personally, found laughable. The U.S.’s anti-COVID strategy basically revolves around vaccines, and it’s not sufficient for stopping new surges.
- Omicron variant: What we know, what we don’t, and why not to panic (yet)On Thanksgiving, my Twitter feed was dominated not by food photos, but by news of a novel coronavirus variant identified in South Africa earlier this week. While the variant—now called Omicron, or B.1.1.529—likely didn’t originate in South Africa, data from the country’s comprehensive surveillance system provided enough evidence to suggest that this variant could be more contagious than Delta, as well as potentially more able to evade human immune systems.
- COVID source callout: CDC’s breakthrough case dataThe CDC has not updated its breakthrough case data since September. A full two months ago.