June 30, 2022

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 the agency’s former commissioner 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,” said Gottlieb, a member of the Pfizer Board of Directors.

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

Gottlieb predicted that the move will nonetheless 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.

J & J’s single-dose vaccine is being discontinued “out of caution” after six women in the US developed a rare bleeding disorder after their vaccinations, according to the FDA. All of these cases occurred in women aged 18 to 48 years, 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 he believes the J&J vaccine could come back into use “with some additional restrictions on its target populations in the meantime while they study this further”.

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.