Scott Gottlieb cautions against overreaction

Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday that people “should be careful not to over-interpret” the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to temporarily stop using Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine.

“Let’s start with what the FDA didn’t do,” said Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner and current member of the Pfizer Board of Directors, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “You didn’t revoke your emergency permit. You didn’t take it off the market.”

“This was a requested pause, which is a cumbersome regulatory move, but I think it reflects a caution not to act too forcefully here,” he said of the decision made after six women vaccinated millions of developed blood clots.

But Gottlieb predicted that the move will still “fuel some people’s reluctance” to get a Covid vaccine.

“Even if there is no causal link, even if it is extremely rare, we will likely see the whole conversation sparked off on social media now,” he said.

The single-dose vaccine is being halted “out of caution” after six women in the US develop a rare blood clotting disorder after their vaccinations, the FDA said Tuesday morning. All of these cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms developing six to 13 days after receiving the shot.

Almost 7 million doses of J & J’s vaccine have been administered, making the adverse events “extremely rare,” the FDA said in a joint statement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gottlieb said that he believes the J&J vaccine could come back into use “with some additional, perhaps limited, restrictions on his target populations in the meantime while they investigate this further.”

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Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion Inc., and biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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