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Biden Health Official Says ‘Much Higher’ Risk Of Aspirin Causing Major Stomach Bleeding Than J&J Vaccine Causing Blood Clots

Topline

With Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine once again cleared for administration in the United States, one of the nation’s top health officials is trying to dispel concerns over the single-dose vaccine’s “very rare” blood-clotting problems, warning instead that vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 pose greater risks.

Key Facts

Speaking to NBC News’ Meet the Press Sunday morning, Dr. Francis Collins, who’s in his twelfth year as director of the National Institutes of Health, said the blood-clotting risks associated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine are “truly a rare event” and that “the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.”

“You are less likely as a woman taking J&J to have this blood-clotting problem than to get struck by lightning next year,” Collins added, referencing the fact that a majority of the 15 people in the U.S. who have reported a blood clot associated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine have been women under the age of 50.

“The risk of aspirin inducing a significant intestinal bleed is much higher than what we’re talking about,” Collins further noted; studies have pinned the risk of developing “major gastrointestinal bleeding” due to aspirin use at about 1.8%, or roughly 2 out of every 100 people.

To compare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has assessed the approximate risk of developing the rare blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at about seven in one million for women under 50—which Collins notes is at least “a thousand times less likely to happen” than an adverse stomach-bleeding reaction to aspirin.

Instead, Collins said vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19 variants pose “serious risks” to reaching herd immunity in the U.S., which Collins forecasts will happen once around 70% to 85% of Americans are vaccinated or immune.

Crucial Quote 

“We Americans, we’re not that good at this kind of risk calculation… Back when seat belts were first being introduced, people were like, ‘Well, you know, suppose my car goes into a lake and I can’t get unbuckled quickly enough when I drown,’” Collins postured Sunday. “Well okay, I guess that’s in there too, but balancing the benefits and the risks, which is what we’re trying to do here, you come out pretty clearly on the side of rolling up your sleeve.” 

Key Background

Ten days after recommending states pause the vaccine’s administration, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration on Friday once again cleared the use of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines after a CDC risk assessment found that if all U.S. adults were able to get the vaccine again, there would be 26 cases of blood clots and 1,435 lives saved. “Both agencies have full confidence that this vaccines’ known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks,” acting CDC Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Friday. Over the past several weeks, 15 people in the U.S. who were given the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine were diagnosed with a rare type of blood clot, three of whom died.

TANGENT 

According to a Fox News poll released Sunday, 55% of Americans who have yet to be vaccinated against coronavirus said they do not plan to get a shot, with 28% of such respondents either saying that “vaccine development was rushed” or still wanting more data on vaccines. About 16% said they don’t trust the vaccine will work.

Big Number

53.1%. That’s the percentage of the U.S. adult population that has been at least partially vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Further Reading

Fauci Denies Johnson & Johnson Pause Will Contribute To Vaccine Hesitancy (Forbes)

FDA And CDC Recommend Resuming Johnson & Johnson Vaccine For All US Adults After Committee Vote (Forbes)

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