The White House COVID-19 Response Team said Wednesday the decision by U.S. health officials to pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have no effect on the government's vaccination program and should reassure the public that the system works.
At a virtual briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said that Johnson & Johnson made just 5 percent of the total vaccine given.
He said the U.S. has more than enough of the two other approved vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech — to continue or even accelerate the current pace of vaccinations in the country, which currently is 3.3 million shots daily.
He said the president's goal of getting at least one dose of vaccine into 200 million people by his 100th day in office at the end of April can still be met. Zients said more than 190 million people already have received at least one dose.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control announced it was recommending a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six cases of rare blood clotting were reported.
The agencies said the pause was made out of "an abundance of caution," and expect it to last a matter of days. They also note the six cases are out of more than 7.2 million administered doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the pause will give the CDC and FDA a chance to alert health care providers to be on the lookout for possible reactions to the vaccine, look for any possible additional cases, and allow the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices time to determine the significance of the events.
Both Walensky and chief medical adviser to the president Anthony Fauci said the decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should give the public confidence that the system of vaccine safeguards is working.
Meanwhile, Walensky noted the 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases rose by 6 percent over the past week, to more than 61,500 cases per day. Deaths from COVID-19 and hospitalizations also were up during the period.