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Don't 'overinterpret' decision to pause J&J Covid vaccine over rare clotting issue, Dr. Scott Gottlieb says

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Key Points
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday that people should be "cautious not to overinterpret" the Food and Drug Administration's decision to temporarily halt use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine.
  • But he predicted that the move will nonetheless "fuel the hesitancy" from some people to get a Covid vaccine.
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Gottlieb: Don't 'overinterpret' decision to pause J&J Covid vaccine

Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday that people should be "cautious not to overinterpret" the Food and Drug Administration's decision to temporarily halt use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine.

"Let's start with what the FDA didn't do," the agency's former commissioner said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "They didn't revoke the emergency use authorization. They didn't order this off the market."

"This was a requested pause, which is an awkward regulatory step, but I think it reflects the level of caution on their part to not to appear to act too forcefully here," said Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer's board of directors.

The agency's decision, announced Tuesday, came after six women out of millions vaccinated developed blood clots.

Gottlieb predicted that the move will nonetheless "fuel the hesitancy" from some people to get a Covid vaccine.

"Even if there isn't a causal relationship, even if this is exceedingly rare, I think we're going to see that whole conversation now get ignited on social media," he said.

Use of J&J's single-dose vaccine is being paused "out of an abundance of caution" after six women in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder following their vaccinations, the FDA said. All of those cases occurred in women ages 18 to 48, with symptoms developing six to 13 days after they received the shot.

Nearly 7 million doses of J&J's vaccine have been administered, making the adverse events "extremely rare," the FDA stressed in a joint statement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gottlieb said he believes the J&J vaccine could come back into use "with some additional, perhaps, restrictions on its target populations in the interim while they continue to investigate this."

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion Inc. and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel." The Associated Press contributed to this report.