Citing the possibility of blood clots, there’s growing suspicion that we may need to manufacture a male-only vaccine.
No matter how widely read you think you are, there’s still room for how widely read you may still yet become. Take, for example, how amid all the opining and bluster about the various vaccines, how safe they are, how apparently unsafe they are, how easy they are to distribute, and apparently how difficult they are to distribute, something TOTALLY out of left field crops up.
As recently reported in The Atlantic, the American the Centre for Disease Control and Food & Drug Administration noted the single-shot Johnson & Johnson version of the coronavirus vaccine and advised halting the vaccine’s nationwide rollout to investigate six cases of a rare blood-clotting disorder that’s occurred in people within about two weeks of receiving the vaccine – all of them women under the age of 50.
These experts raised the possibility of limiting its future use to males; in the meantime reserving Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for those among the population with the Y chromosome. A COVID-safe sausage fest. Party on, dudes!
Good news if you were announced to the world via blue cake. However, prematurely ‘masculinizing’ the J&J vaccine could not only reinforce biases that compromise health care, but undercut one of the many efforts to identify what factors contribute to these unusual clots, and protecting the people they affect.
Per The Atlantic’s reporting: “The post-vaccination clots under investigation belong to a class called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), and they seem to manifest when antibodies, perhaps produced in response to the shots, inadvertently rile up platelets in the blood. Platelets exist to keep wounds from bleeding indefinitely: They clump blood cells and proteins together to plug up leaks. But in CVST, they seem to spark a clotting cascade that can clog veins in dangerous places, including the brain, and lead platelet levels to plunge. The disorder is a collision between a powerful immune response and a naturally clot-prone environment; a potentially simple explanation for why they might show up more in women is that the hormone estrogen can amp up both of these factors.”
CVSTs are rare among the general population but are more common in women.
But fellows, we ain’t out of the woods yet: In addition to the six cases in women, researchers are now re-evaluating a potentially similar CVST case that was identified in a young man who had received J&J’s vaccine during the company’s late-stage clinical trials.
This is an interesting pause for thought if you’re in the US, where vaccine doses administered number in the ‘impressive’ column (237 million as of 30/04), as the number of doses administered in Australia, isn’t…quite as good (2 million), despite there being a significant number of arms willing and waiting for the needle.
It’s another example of how government health authorities are erring on the side of caution, despite the odds of obtaining a blood clot from a vaccine being between 4 and 6 in every million. The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 15,300. The odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 205,552, and the probability of flipping a coin and getting 100 ‘heads” in a row is 1 in 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376.