Today, the CDC and FDA announced that they are calling a pause on the administration of the J&J vaccine for COVID 19, due to a small number of adverse events.
US health officials pausing the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine because of the risk of an extremely rare blood clotting disorder.
It follows similar news around the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The news has shaken up the global vaccine rollout and led to a lot of questions around the safety of the shots.
But should you be worried?
Let's break down the science of the vaccines and why these risks are extremely low.
Let's start with the basics.
Both AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are what's known as adenovirus vaccines.
They instruct your cells to make part of the Coronavirus, known as the spike protein.
Essentially your cells make these look alike proteins and then your body recognizes them and mounts an immune response.
Then if you ever get infected by the real thing, Thing your body knows what to do.
To get the instructions inside yourselves, the vaccine wraps them inside another virus called an Adenovirus.
But this could be where the problem lies.
Scientists don't actually know what's causing the clotting or whether the vaccine itself is causing the clotting in the first place.
But they have recognized a connection.
Both vaccines link to the clotting problems AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are adenovirus vaccines.
And it could be this specific vaccine technology that's causing a very small number of patients to have an extreme immune response and develop these blood clots.
After the CDC and FDA recommended the pause, Johnson and Johnson came out to say there'd been no evidence found to link the blood clots with the vaccine itself.
In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from j&j wrote that evidence was insufficient to establish a link between the events.
They also pointed out that Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca both use different kinds of adenoviruses in their vaccines.
The AstraZeneca vaccine actually uses part of a chimpanzee adenovirus, whereas Johnson and Johnson uses a human adenovirus.
The researchers said that that likely meant the two vaccines interacted with human cells in different ways.
It's worth noting these clotting problems have not been linked to the Pfizer and madona vaccines.
They use a different kind of vaccine technology known as mRNA.
Like the adenovirus vaccines, these mRNA vaccines get your cells to make their own copies of the spike protein.
But these instructions are smuggled into the body in a different way in a kind of oily shell rather than a piece of another virus.
mRNA vaccines are cutting edge and the Pfizer and Madonna shots are the very first to use this tech, but there is no known link between Pfizer and Madonna And any clotting risks.
So just how much of a risk is this clotting?
Well, in this statement, the CDC and FDA said they'd received six reported cases out of 6.8 million doses administered in the US or 0.000.
000 8% of Americans who'd had the shot, all of them women under the age of 48, who developed the condition between one to two weeks after vaccination.
Scientists still don't know why the problem affects women more than men, but one answer could be that they mount a stronger immune response to the vaccine.
Either way, the chances are less than one in a million And likely less for older people.
In the case of AstraZeneca, based on numbers from the UK, experts say that risk is about one in 100,000.
Compare that to the risk of dying from COVID.
According to figures from Imperial College London, the fatality rate of COVID-19 is 1%.
One out of every 100 people who can track this disease Die.
It's also worth comparing these one in a million risks with other risks.
Scientists say that about one in 1000 women on the birth control pill are affected by blood clots every year.
And according to.
Researcher is, one in three people who contract COVID-19 present with blood clots.
So, what if you've had the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine already, should you be worried?
Well here's Dr. Reshall Wlansky from the CDC, speaking about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
For people who have received the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk of a blood clot is exceptionally low.
For people receive the vaccine meaning recently meaning within the last few weeks, they should be aware of their symptoms and immediately seek medical assistance with any symptoms of concern.
But also I want to reiterate to this group.
Even in this group, these events are extremely rare.
This is the bottom line for both Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca.
The risk is extremely low.
And again, while there have been cases of clotting in people who've had the j&j vaccine, the company says there's no evidence of a link The cases have largely occurred in women under 60.
Within the first two weeks of getting the shot.
According to the CDC and the European Medicines Agency if you've had either AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson in the past three weeks, keep an eye out for symptoms like severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or swelling or shortness of breath.
If the symptoms do pop up, contact your doctor and let them know about your recent COVID vaccine.
But also remember the chances are incredibly low.
So what does this mean for the vaccine rollout as a whole?
In the US The White House has been quick to reassure the public that the pause won't slow down the vaccine rollout.
The country is paused, J&J shots and AstraZeneca isn't actually approved for use.
And the US also has enough doses of Pfizer and Madonna, to vaccinate everyone in the US.
But elsewhere around the world, the issues with these vaccines are causing problems.
As governments try to juggle vaccine supply and demand, made new virus variants popping up.
Now, some countries have paused for shots altogether, while others are adjusting advice based on age groups.
The CDC also says it will continue to release more advice as it investigates the issue.
There's no doubt that news of extremely rare side effects is a bump in the road of the vaccine rollout.
But it's not a reason to distrust vaccines altogether.
This kind of transparency is actually standard anytime a vaccine is developed, its assigned scientists and public health officials are constantly monitoring the situation.
And the experts are going to keep studying these vaccines to make sure the rollout is as safe as possible so we can return to life as normal.
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