The Biden administration’s decision to call for a pause to the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has caused confidence in the vaccine to plummet, according to a new poll.
“Fieldwork for the latest Economist/YouGov poll on vaccine safety perceptions was in the midst of being conducted when the Centers for Disease Control made the decision to suspend the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” a press release said. “Comparing the results from those who took the survey before the announcement with those who took the survey afterward shows the huge impact the CDC’s decision has had on the perceived safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the pause recommendation earlier this week after six women in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder. More than 7 million people in the U.S. have so far received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Among those who started the survey before the announcement about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, about half (52%) considered the shot ‘very safe’ or ‘somewhat safe’ – twice the number who believed it ‘very unsafe’ or ‘somewhat unsafe’,” the poll said. “After the announcement was made, these figures had converged – just 37% called the vaccine safe, and 39% feeling it unsafe.”
The poll also said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has suffered reputational damage after experiencing setbacks in Europe. The vaccine has not been approved for use in the U.S.
A CBS report published Thursday said a recent study found that “the risks of experiencing dangerous, rare blood clots in the brain are far higher in those who catch the coronavirus than in those who get either the AstraZeneca vaccine, or the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna in the U.S.” The report said that vaccines ranged from 4 to 5 people developing blood clots in the brain for every 1 million people vaccinated, compared to 39 people developing blood clots in the brain for every 1 million people who contract COVID-19.
The Biden administration has since faced criticism over its decision to call for a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“6 cases out of 7 million people. What a disaster,” Nate Silver, editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, said. “This is going to get people killed. And it’s going to create more vaccine hesitancy. These people don’t understand cost-benefit analysis. They keep making mistakes by orders of magnitude.”
6 cases out of 7 million people. What a disaster. This is going to get people killed. And it's going to create more vaccine hesitancy. These people don't understand cost-benefit analysis. They keep making mistakes by orders of magnitude. https://t.co/DQdvqoujHR
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 13, 2021
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) wrote on Twitter: “I respect the independence of the FDA and their need to evaluate risk. But 6 out of 6.8 million is not a lot, and if they are going to land on ‘we reviewed the data and everything is fine,’ they need to be clear and quick and unequivocal.”
I respect the independence of the FDA and their need to evaluate risk. But 6 out of 6.8 million is not a lot, and if they are going to land on “we reviewed the data and everything is fine,” they need to be clear and quick and unequivocal.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 13, 2021
CNN senior political analyst John Avlon wrote on Twitter: “You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning this year than you do from having a negative reaction to a J&J vaccine.”
— John Avlon (@JohnAvlon) April 14, 2021
Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist at Harvard, wrote on Twitter: “If health officials think that publicly pausing the J&J vaccine because of reports of 1/million clots will ‘build confidence in vaccines,’ they need to learn some cognitive psychology. The common takeaway will be ‘vaccines cause blood clots.’”
“Pausing a vital vaccine during a pandemic over a one in a million risk isn’t ‘leading with science’ unless you don’t know statistics is also a science. A terrible blow to public confidence that will cost lives,” leftist Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, wrote on Twitter. “It’s a war, there are risks you take to save many more lives. Pretending you can eliminate all risk is telling people what they want to hear instead of doing what must be done. It will fuel the conspiracy theorists.”
This article has been revised for clarity.