Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease doctor, hopes U.S. regulators will make a quick decision to lift a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and get that vaccine "back on track," he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
Top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci believes Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine will get 'back on track' soon after reports of rare blood clotting prompted U.S. regulators to pause its use this week.
His comments come a day after advisers to the CDC delayed a vote on resuming the J&J shots, until it had more data on the risk.
Fauci told Reuters Thursday the pause is a good sign that U.S. regulators take safety seriously, but urged them to make a decision on the vaccine soon.
"You know, the concern is that the longer you draw it out the more they'll be, you know, concern about not only that that vaccine, but there might even have an impact on vaccine hesitancy in general." The blood clots associated with the J&J vaccine closely resemble cases seen in Europe with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Some European countries are already backing away from using both.
Denmark announced Wednesday it would stop using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether.
Fauci said Thursday that decision could be premature until countries find out whether the adverse events are occurring more than they would normally.
But countries with no other vaccine options may have to weigh those risks against the risk of COVID-19, which has also been linked to the same type of brain blood clots.
"You know, you're really going to have to make an interesting judgment call.
If you have alternative vaccines, fine.
But if you don't, you may need to say, you know, it's a very, very small risk, but the advantage of giving people vaccines far outweighs the risk of that adverse event." Meanwhile, as more Americans receive the vaccine, pressure is mounting to further lift coronavirus restrictions.
"What has to happen before Americans get their freedoms back?" In a heated exchange with Representative Jim Jordan on Thursday, Fauci said it was still too soon to lift social distancing measures across the U.S. and hit back at claims that Americans' first amendment rights were being violated.
"I don't look at this as a liberty thing.
I look at this as a public health thing." The U.S. has reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases for four weeks in a row, according to a Reuters analysis.