NIH Director says J&J blood clotting issue a 'truly a rare event'

The director of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) said Sunday that the risk of a serious blood clotting issue posed by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was truly rare, and disagreed with calls from some for it to not be administered to women.

In an interview with "Meet the Press," Francis Collins was asked to respond to comments from Leana Wen, a CNN health contributor and former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, who called for the J&J vaccine to not be administered to women under age 65.

"I think she's in the minority compared to the decision that was put forward by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of [Centers for Disease Control], which met for an entire day on Friday and went over all of the data, documenting a total of some 13 cases of this rare form of blood-clotting out of some eight million doses of the J&J vaccine that had been administered," Collins said of Wen.

"The strong conclusion of that group was that the vaccine should go forward. It should be made available to everybody," she continued, adding: "But there should be a fact sheet that provides the information to everybody to understand what the nature is of this potential very rare side effect so that everyone is aware of the facts."

Collins went on to add that there was "no comparison" between the mortality risks associated with COVID-19 and the risk of developing a severe blood clotting issue linked to the vaccine, which has not led to any reported deaths.

"[W]hen you consider the nature of this risk, this is truly a rare event. And when you measure that against the benefits of preventing somebody from dying of COVID, there's no comparison," she said.

Her comments follow the CDC's decision this week to end a temporary pause in vaccinations using the J&J one-dose vaccine, a recommendation which the CDC put in place earlier this month.

While the vaccine will still be administered, Americans who receive it will also be given a fact sheet detailing the blood clot risk, while health professionals around the U.S. will receive instructions explaining how to treat cases of the clotting issue that may arise.