‘A terrible disservice’: Trump slams FDA, CDC call for ‘pause’ on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Shortly following the joint recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday to “pause the use” of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, former President Donald Trump slammed the decision, accusing the FDA of favoritism toward Pfizer and its vaccine.

Tuesday morning, the two federal agencies issued a statement “recommending a pause in the use of this [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine out of an abundance of caution” as they review data “involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine.” They note, importantly, that “these adverse events appear to be extremely rare” right now. Furthermore, they stated that over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered throughout the U.S., as of Monday.

On Tuesday too, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement saying that it has decided to “proactively delay the rollout” of its vaccine in Europe.

Later that morning, Trump issued a scathing statement opposing the move and going after his successor’s administration.

“The Biden administration did a terrible disservice to people throughout the world by allowing the FDA and CDC to call a ‘pause’ in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” the 45th U.S. president began.

“The results of this vaccine have been extraordinary but now it’s [sic] reputation will be permanently challenged,” he added, predicting that the “people who have already taken the vaccine will be up in arms”.

Trump then started to accuse the FDA of preferential treatment toward the vaccine of Pfizer, one of Johnson & Johnson’s main competitors with the U.S., with the other being Moderna. Unlike its two main competitors’ vaccines, which require two doses for full inoculation, the Johnson & Johnson one only requires one dose, which carries its own pros and cons.

“[P]erhaps all of this was done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer,” Trump posited. “The FDA, especially with long time bureaucrats within, has to be controlled. They should not be able to do such damage for possibly political reasons, or maybe because their friends at Pfizer have suggested it. They’ll do things like this to make themselves look important.”

“Remember, it was the FDA working with Pfizer, who announced the vaccine approval two days after the 2020 Presidential Election,” the former president added. It should be noted that, according to The Hill, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said that the vaccine’s viability was announced as soon as possible.

“They didn’t like me very much because I pushed them extremely hard,” he said before arguing again that there would be no vaccine if he had not been in the Oval Office. “But if I didn’t, you wouldn’t have a vaccine for 3-5 years, or maybe not at all. It takes them years to act!”

“Do your testing, clean up the record, and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine back online quickly.”

In response from the FDA and CDC’s move, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the agencies’ recommendation “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.