The FDA's 'Safety Pause' Predictably Lowered Americans' Confidence in Safety of J&J COVID-19 Vaccine

Who could possibly have known that that would happen?


Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bureaucrats imposed a "safety pause" on administering Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine on April 12. The agency recommended that inoculations of the vaccine come to a stop after six women out of nearly 7 million people who received the shot reported experiencing dangerous blood clots. At the time, various public health experts insisted that this safety-first response was taken in order to "maintain public trust" and could "actually build confidence in people" in the vaccine.

Other commentators pointed out that this highly risk-averse regulatory action would backfire and would instead make Americans more worried about the safety of the vaccine.

Last Friday, after 10 days, the FDA lifted its pause. The agency concluded that "the available data show that the vaccine's known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older."

So did the pause bolster the confidence of Americans in the vaccine as predicted? Not quite. "Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans not yet immunized against the coronavirus say they would be willing to get the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that finds broad mistrust of the shot's safety after federal health officials paused its use," reports the The Washington Post.

"If I hear the phrase 'abundance of caution' one more time, I'm going to jump out of my window," Paul A. Offit, a vaccine expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Post. "In the name of transparency, in the name of openness, we scare people."

Scaring people away from being inoculated with a very safe and effective vaccine means that more will die from, become hospitalized by, and suffer the miseries of the COVID-19 infections that would otherwise have been prevented.