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Solving Johnson & Johnson’s clot mystery

Scientists research adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine

A nurse prepares a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in New York Associated Press/Photo by Mary Altaffer (file)

Solving Johnson & Johnson’s clot mystery

On April 13, two American public health agencies pulled the plug on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine citing concerns about blood clots in younger women. Just over a week later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both gave the go ahead for Johnson & Johnson vaccines to continue.

Now a group of German scientists think they may have figured out why the American-made vaccine as well as Britain’s AstraZeneca vaccine cause blood clots in rare cases. Researchers from Germany’s Goethe University published a report on May 26 blaming the vaccines’ delivery system. But the discovery may come too late to rebuild the eroded confidence in Johnson & Johnson’s shot.

Both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca use a weakened common cold virus—called an adenovirus—to transport a COVID-19 spike protein into the human body in their vaccines. While Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot mRNA vaccines deliver genetic material to the fluid inside a cell, the adenovirus formulas deliver the spike protein inside a cell’s nucleus.

In May, the CDC reported 28 cases of serious blood clots out of 8.7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered, with most of the cases among women aged 18 to 49. Similarly rare clotting problems have been reported in Europe, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used.

According to the German researchers, the spike proteins in the adenovirus vaccines can break apart inside a cell’s nucleus, enter the blood stream and in very rare cases cause clots. Lead author Rolf Marschalek said companies making this kind of vaccine could alter the design to reduce risk.

But it may be too late to fix the damage to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s reputation. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll in April and found only 15 percent of Americans were very confident in the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. By comparison, the same survey found 37 percent and 38 percent of respondents very confident in the safety of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, respectively.

Scattered anecdotal evidence from across the country suggests the reports of blood clots among Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients have withered demand for the product. State health officials in Arkansas recently said 60,000 of the shots in the state’s possession could expire soon unless health officials find takers. Officials in Bucks County, Pa., resorted to handing out shaved ice coupons in May to try and get expiring Johnson & Johnson vaccines into arms. According to WPVI-TV, several suburban Philadelphia counties were sitting on thousands of expiring vaccines at the end of May. “I think there were a lot of people on the fence and that pause made some of those people move off the fence, and we’ve got to get them back on,” Bucks County Health Director David Damsker told WPVI-TV.

John Dawson

John is a correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, the University of Texas at Austin, and previously wrote for The Birmingham News. John resides in Dallas, Texas.



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"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it will hold an emergency meeting to discuss a significant number of reports of heart inflammation in people who've received the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The meeting, which will take place on Friday, June 18, will include an update on vaccine safety in light of the reported cases, according to an agenda draft that the CDC posted on its website...
Most of the reported cases were in young males ages 16 or older, and symptoms (more on those below) typically showed up several days after they received a dose of the vaccine."
~ Renee Cherry in Yahoo News
"According to Becker’s Hospital Review, at a June 10 presentation to the FDA’s advisory panel, the CDC committee said it has received 275 reported cases of myocarditis, heart muscle inflammation, or pericarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle lining, in people ages 16-24 after getting their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC advisory panel said the number of cases is higher than the 10 to 102 cases of the conditions scientists had anticipated in that age group. “We clearly have an imbalance here,” Tom Shimabukuro, MD, who works in the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, said during the June 10 meeting."
~Karen Graham in Digital Journal

I hope World plans to cover this story of this potentially dangerous side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine for young people.


Unless my sources are mistaken or misleading, the greater objection to the adenovirus delivery mechanism is that of conscience: reportedly the J&J inoculation utilizes embryonic stem cells. This would make a vital difference to citizens who place highest concern over abuse (even destruction) of GOD's image, regardless of the conditions.
Under the Emergency Use Authorization provisions, US citizens are largely being denied the availability of clinically-proven treatment regimens (HCQ, Ivermectin, Cholchicine, etc.) that have shown to be effective. Are Americans being channeled by government agencies away from viable treatments and toward medications for which no long-term effects have been studied? Remember, these "vaccines" are not approved as vaccines for this very reason; they have merely been granted Emergency Use Authorization.
The concerns over Christian conscience and eventual impact of mRNA manipulations is enough to keep many readers trusting in GOD's sovereignty over governmental (political) maneuvering. And, I agree with OldMike, Americans are to a far greater degree than risking Covid, are taunting fate with our lifestyle choices (sin of every imagination- Gen 6:5) with assumed immunity. How broad is the way to destruction!


Don't forget that God's sovereignty extends over governments too (Rom 13)! I've wondered in recent times if our deep-seated suspicion of government is more rooted in our culture as conservatives than our conviction as believers. By all measures the vaccines that leverage the built-in mechanics of our immune system have proven more effective than any treatment regimen. It's incredible to see the fruit of years of exploring the wonder and mysteries of God's design of the human body. We should certainly be willing to consider the potential of unknown long-term effects, but the reality is that we live in world of imperfect information and there is no way we can completely control for such things. Though the vaccine is far from perfect, and though it remedies but one relatively small manifestation of the fall, glory be to God for all the lives saved as a result of it!

My Two CentsDaviDINO

Davidino, I was just discussing this the other day with my spouse. Emergency Use Authorization (in my humble understanding) should have been administered to those who needed emergency use. There was an experimental Aids treatment plan back in the 90s that a coworker participated in. He didn't know if he was getting the real treatment or the placebo, but I suspect he got the real thing, as he is still with us and seems to be in good health. But, the "emergency use treatment" was applied to those who needed it. In the case of our beloved current vaccine regimen, "emergency use" is being strongly encouraged for the masses. All the masses. All adults. All teens. Everyone. And, it case someone is hesitant, we will offer gimmicks of free donuts, airline tickets, raffles, and cute little stickers and profiles to post on social media. And your point is well-taken, that the controversial treatments that were soundly hushed a year ago, should have been considered by the patient/doctor relationship. Sort of the same thing we have now--emergency use authorization.


HCQ, Ivermectin, Cholchicine, etc. have been clinically proven for the diseases they originally were made to treat. For Covid-19 they have been clinically proven to NOT work. That is why they are NOT being prescribed for Covid-19.


RC need to check your fact source. Current studies are the exact opposite of what you state.
Even 3 months ago the studies showed potential or better.


Approximately 3 in a million. Funny to me that people will refuse a vaccination with that slim of odds of an issue, but will ignore much worse odds of a bad outcome in everyday decisions. Trying to beat a red light. Swallowing Tide-pods. Using drugs. Drinking and driving. Smoking.


I feel like the news reporting skewed the thinking that it was more common than it is (kind of like with severe COVID cases), and then the pause on the vaccine to study the super rare clots just destroyed people's confidence in it. And politicians wonder why people are hesitant to get the vaccines.


It's interesting that there's been so much fear and uncertainty about the mRNA vaccines, whereas the adenovirus vaccines have been shown to be less effective and - with this information - a bit less safe. It's promising that the person who discovered this thinks that it can be fixed, but testing it is going to be hard given the rarity of the clots. Praise God for the people who worked diligently over the years to perfect the mRNA technique just in time to stop this century's pandemic!