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President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci suggested Wednesday that the decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could actually bolster vaccine confidence, calling it "an affirmation that safety is a primary consideration when it comes to the FDA and CDC."

Why it matters: Tuesday's decision to pause the J&J rollout has set off a chain reaction of fears — both about the safety of the vaccine and about whether the FDA is overreacting, considering that only six cases of rare blood clots have been reported out of 7 million vaccine doses administered.

Driving the news: Fauci explained on CNN's "New Day" that the pause is "temporary" and intended to serve as an alert to doctors, since the the standard blood thinner used to treat clots could actually make things worse for vaccinated patients experiencing this rare kind of clot.

  • Fauci said he does not have reason to believe that many more cases will be reported from recipients of the J&J vaccine, and that he expects the pause will last "days to weeks" rather than "weeks to months."
  • A CDC expert committee will meet on Wednesday to review the situation.

What they're saying: Pressed on criticisms that the FDA pause could increase vaccine hesitancy, Fauci responded, "You could take that on the other side of that coin. Because I know when I go out there and talk to people about hesitancy, the overwhelming reason for that is a concern about safety."

  • "So if there is a concern about hesitancy out there, the fact that this was done would in my mind underscore and confirm how seriously we take safety, even though it's a very rare event," he continued.
  • "If anybody's who has a doubt that they may not be taking safety seriously, I think this is an affirmation that safety is a primary consideration when it comes to the FDA and the CDC. That's why it was done and that why it's a pause. It isn't a cancellation, it's a pause."

Go deeper: The new vaccine threat is fear itself

Go deeper

Updated Apr 13, 2021 - Health

FDA expects J&J vaccine pause to last "a matter of days"

Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The U.S. FDA on Tuesday recommended an immediate halt of the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, citing cases of a rare blood clot disorder that six women developed within two weeks of receiving the shot.

The latest: Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said at a briefing that she expects the pause to only last "a matter of days," as health officials investigate the data surrounding the "extremely rare" blood clots.

Apr 14, 2021 - Health

The new vaccine threat is fear itself

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FDA’s decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine has set off a chain reaction of fear — about the safety of the vaccine, and about whether the FDA is overreacting — that's causing unnecessary drama just as the vaccine effort is finally picking up speed.

The big picture: Throughout the pandemic, the public and the media, and sometimes even regulators, have struggled to keep risks in perspective — to acknowledge them without exaggerating them, and to avoid downplaying them because other people will exaggerate them.

Apr 13, 2021 - Health

Moderna says vaccines are over 90% effective 6 months after second shot

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: Steve Parsons/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective against the coronavirus approximately six months after the second dose is administered, according to preliminary data published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Why it matters: Details about the Moderna vaccine's long-term effectiveness come after the FDA recommended earlier Tuesday that the U.S. pause its use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine, citing six cases of a rare blood clot disorder.