FDA Planning To Warn That J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Can Lead To An Increase of A Rare Neurological Condition

CITY OF WASHINGTON (July 12, 2021)–The Food and Drug Administration is planning to warn that Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine can lead to an increased risk of a rare neurological condition known as Guillain–Barré syndrome, another setback for a vaccine that has largely been sidelined in the United States because of manufacturing problems and a temporary safety pause earlier this year, according to several people familiar with the plans.

Although regulators have found that the chances of developing the condition are low, they appear to be three to five times higher among recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than among the general population in the United States, according to people familiar with the decision.

Federal officials have identified roughly 100 suspected cases of Guillain-Barré disease among recipients of the Johnson & Johnson shot through a federal monitoring system that relies on patients and health care providers to report adverse effects of vaccines. The reports are considered preliminary. Most people who develop the condition recover.

The F.D.A. has concluded that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing severe disease or death from the coronavirus still very much outweigh any danger, but it plans to include the proviso in fact sheets about the drug for providers and patients.

“It’s not surprising to find these types of adverse events associated with vaccination,” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former acting chief scientist at the F.D.A. under President Barack Obama. The data collected so far by the F.D.A., she added, suggested that the vaccine’s benefits “continue to vastly outweigh the risks.”

In a statement released Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cases have largely been reported about two weeks after vaccination and mostly in males, many aged 50 years and older.

The database reports indicate that symptoms of Guillain-Barré developed within about three weeks of vaccination. One recipient, a 57-year-old man from Delaware who had suffered both a heart attack and a stroke within the last four years, died in early April after he was vaccinated and developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, according to a report filed to the database.

The Biden administration is expected to announce the new warning as early as Tuesday. European regulators may soon follow suit. No link has been found between Guillain-Barré syndrome and the coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, the other two federally authorized manufacturers. Those rely on a different technology.

Nearly 13 million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson’s shot, but 92 percent of Americans who have been fully vaccinated received shots developed by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. Even though it requires only one dose, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been marginalized by manufacturing delays and a 10-day pause while investigators studied whether it was linked to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder in women. That investigation also resulted in a warning added to the fact sheet.

Source: New York Times

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