There’s an interesting debate going on over whether it’s better to pause J&J vaccinating while we investigate rare side effects, or better to balance that rare risk against the greater risk of COVID. IMO, a pause followed by a justified unpause should increase confidence.
The closest analogy I can recall is the 1992 Tylenol poisoning case. Someone injected cyanide into Tylenol capsules, killing 7 people. In response the manufacturer recalled all Tylenol, urged people not to take their drug, and introduced new tamperproof containers.
Because they reacted quickly and against their own short-term interests, Tylenol returned to the market with a strong reputation.

Tylenol, BTW, is a brand owned by Johnson & Johnson.…
That's the model I suspect the FDA and J&J have in mind here. Show that the safety net is so cautious that even rare side effects prompt careful review, so that confidence in every vaccine is increased. Keeping J&J shots going is probably warranted by short-term cost-benefit.
But FDA, J&J, and the entire vaccination effort, are ultimately enhanced by detecting and addressing even extremely rare risks. Ditto for the very public J&J factory shutdown over a flawed ingredient from a supplier. It's good that people know the watchdogs are there.
It's the same reason that efforts like @RetractionWatch and @MicrobiomDigest's work ultimately increase confidence in science. Yes, there is bad science, and even outright fraud. But we catch it.
Yes, bad actors will cite these incidents to fearmonger. But they'll do that regardless. A day's bad headline will leave people with bad associations. But when an investigation allows J&J back on the market, that'll generate more good headlines.
Vaccine advocates will be in much stronger position to point to this process because the FDA is being so cautious. 5 years from now, when your sister-in-law hesitates to have her baby vaccinated, you'll remind her that the FDA stopped pandemic vaccination over a statistical blip.
We don't want the FDA playing politics. Their job is to regulate safety. And that's what they're doing. And because they can do that even in a global pandemic, against intense political pressure, we can all feel better about every shot we get from a doctor.
NB: This is clearly an unpopular opinion. And in the end, it may not work the way I'm hoping (and the way I think the FDA is hoping). But here we are, and to the degree that your conversations shape things, I think this is how to explain it to increase vaccine confidence.

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More from @JoshRosenau

22 Feb
Seeing these full-color photos from Mars as we officially clear 500,000 US COVID fatalities is a lot to process. We can do things sooooo well, but also sooooooo badly.
Look, this isn't an argument to cut NASA's budget. Relative to the cost of COVID, you could zero out NASA and not save any lives. And nothing prevents the government from just spending more in a crisis.
With NASA, Trump appointed relatively competent and nonpartisan folks, and while they made some bad calls for the long term plans of NASA, the project lifecycle spans multiple presidents. So long as the politicians don't try to interfere, things work out well.
Read 5 tweets
12 Feb
This is exactly why social sanction is so important. The government can’t make a rule that you aren’t allowed to be an antisemite, but if we all agree it ostracize antisemites, maybe that makes it harder for the GOP to become a party of antisemites!
I mean Disney is not the same as general social sanction. But they’re acting in part on the basis of social sanction. They know that I’m less likely to watch a show where every time I see a hero it reminds me she believes and spreads conspiracies about (((people like me))).
And knowing that, I’m less likely to take my kids to Disney movies, show them The Mandalorian, but Mandalorian merch, etc. The GOP doesn’t care that it’s hard to draw a line separating them from the antisemitic brew of nonsense at the heart of Q.
Read 4 tweets
10 Feb
What is the goal of journalists and home viewers just announcing that GOP Senators will vote to acquit? It reads like they are excusing that future outcome. We don’t know how they’ll vote yet, and how they vote hinges on how it’s reported and discussed.
I am deeply averse to this air of cleverer-than-thou or cynicism that just serves to justify the cynical acts of Senate Republicans. Your job in this moment, as a citizen or a pundit or reporter, is not to prognosticate but to describe what you feel as the case is laid out.
Not picking on @fmanjoo here, but this is a prototypically bad tweet. Bad for America, justice, democracy. At most, a self-fulfilling prophecy. But also offers a pre-emotive excuse to those Senate GOPers who want to act cynically. Don’t make it easy! Image
Read 4 tweets
1 Feb
Reflecting on Richard Epstein’s absurd predictions last year, which have been echoed in various ways by Berenson, Atlas, and other COVID-deniers. Some at least were born after smallpox, polio, measles, diphtheria, etc. we’re controlled by vaccines. But how short our memory is!
Epstein’s thin argument was. And it’s true that there is a point at which virulence can be so high as to be maladaptive. But so is zero virulence!… Image
And as Epstein knew from having been alive for more than half of the 20th century, diseases do not naturally evolve zero mortality and zero virulence in less than a year. He was alive to see smallpox and polio make repeated sweeps through his own community.
Read 5 tweets
1 Feb
It’s important to note that the rise of increased virulence runs exactly counter to the bogus claims by Hoover’s Richard Epstein and others (…) that the virus would rapidly evolve less virulence. Evolutionary biologists knew better.
Then as now, the best way to prevent the spread of more deadly or more virulent strains is to mask up, maintain social distance, and vaccinate. Keep restaurants closed, keep schools closed, pay people to stay home.
Herd immunity and vaccines can be evolved around in ways that masks and quarantine can’t. We can deploy better vaccines as new strains dominate. But most of the US has massive community transmission. It’s a breeding ground for new strains.
Read 6 tweets
21 Nov 20
My friends, do not piss of federal judges. This, from a ruling dismissing Trump’s lawsuit with prejudice is brutal.…
Oh dang
Read 8 tweets

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