FDA warns of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Guillain-Barré syndrome link

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The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is once again raising concerns.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday warned about a possible link between that vaccine and the autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. In a statement, the agency said the data “suggests an association” between the vaccine and a higher risk of the condition, but not enough “to establish a causal relationship.”

The Washington Post reported there have been about 100 instances of the possible connection, mostly among men and in many cases among those age 50 and older. Some 12.8 million doses of the J&J shot have been administered.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website that people who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome can be vaccinated against COVID-19 and that no cases of the disorder were reported in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. One case was reported in J&J trials.

Use of the J&J vaccine, hailed for its single-shot convenience, was paused for 10 days in April while federal health agencies investigated reports of six women developing rare but severe blood clots within two weeks of receiving the jab. The agencies later determined the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks.

Also in the news:

►The Tennessee state government on Monday fired its top vaccination official, becoming the latest of about two dozen states to lose years of institutional knowledge about vaccines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

►Utah Gov. Spencer Cox apologized Monday after his administration discovered a state agency misstated last week that 70% of residents in the state had received one dose. The percentage, once corrected, fell to 67%.

►Federal health officials stuck to their position that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need a booster shot after meeting Monday with representatives from vaccine maker Pfizer.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 607,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 187.2 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 160 million Americans — 48% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: As many adolescents and young adults prepare to return to the classroom in the fall term amid the spread of the delta variant, the lagging vaccination rates among Generation Z are raising concerns among experts.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

The death toll from a catastrophic blaze that erupted at a coronavirus hospital ward in southern Iraq the previous day rose to 64 on Tuesday, Iraqi medical officials said. Two health officials said more than 100 people were also injured in the fire that torched the coronavirus ward of al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the city of Nasiriyah on Monday.

Anguished relatives were still looking for traces of their loved ones on Tuesday morning, searching through the debris of charred blankets and belongings inside the torched remains of the ward. A blackened skull of a deceased female patient from the ward was found. Many cried openly, their tears tinged with anger, blaming both the provincial government of Dhi Qar, where Nasiriyah is located, and the federal government in Baghdad for years of mismanagement and neglect.

“The whole state system has collapsed, and who paid the price? The people inside here. These people have paid the price,” said Haidar al-Askari, who was at the scene of the blaze.

Overnight, firefighters and rescuers — many with just flashlights and using blankets to extinguish small fires still smoldering in places — had frantically worked searching through the ward in the darkness. As dawn broke, bodies covered with sheets were laid on the ground outside the hospital.

Earlier, officials had said the fire was caused by an electric short circuit, but provided no more details. Another official said the blaze erupted when an oxygen cylinder exploded. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

— Associated Press

Over the past seven days in the U.S., new COVID-19 cases increased by 97.4% from the previous week with 47 states now reporting an increase in infections, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But the major increase is likely due to states that didn’t report over the July 4 holiday and were closed Monday, likely artificially inflating the number of new infections.

The U.S. is again reporting cases at a pace of nearly 1,000 every hour. That’s more than double the pace the…



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