Johnson & Johnson has reached out to other coronavirus vaccine makers to join a study on the risks of blood clots, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Friday, citing several people familiar with the matter.
Johnson & Johnson tried to build an industrywide alliance among four vaccine manufacturers to communicate benefits and risks and address the public’s concerns, sources told WSJ. It also pitched forming an expert panel and issuing a joint statement on blood-clot issues.
Pfizer and Moderna executives declined Johnson & Johnson’s offer, adding that their vaccines appeared safe and that regulators were already looking into the cause of reported blood clots, according to sources.
One of the companies expressed worry that its reputation could be tarnished by associating with the Johnson & Johnson study, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ.
Six women who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in the United States developed blood clots, and one died, out of more than seven million people administered doses across the country, US government officials have said.
AstraZeneca – which has been barraged in recent weeks by similar blood-clot concerns, offers its vaccine in more than 20 countries, but has yet to win US approval for its shot – agreed to the Johnson & Johnson study, according to sources.
Blot-clot concerns have not been reported by people in the US receiving the Pfizer and Moderna shots, US health officials have said.
Drugmakers, usually rivals and fierce competitors, came together in an unprecedented fashion last year to tackle the coronavirus, but the WSJ report underscores limits to their solidarity.
Some vaccine makers are now confronting safety issues on jabs rolled out in record time, as those companies walk a fine line between investigating risks and turning people off vaccinations.
Health officials in several European countries have already restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small number of people who had received the shot reported blood clot troubles in early March.
The United Kingdom has also advised against using AstraZeneca’s shot in people under 30 years old, and European regulators are looking into the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson began reaching out to other vaccine makers last week after concerns about the safety over its shot garnered widespread worry across Europe, sources said.
US health authorities earlier this week recommended suspending the use of Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot while they investigate the matter.
In its pitch to the other vaccine makers, Johnson & Johnson proposed forming a panel to review all blood-clot reports and assessing the report using the same methodology, a person familiar with the talks told the WSJ.
AstraZeneca was eager about coming together for an industrywide investigation into vaccinated and unvaccinated groups to better understand the cause of the clots, according to the report.
Following this week’s US warning about blood-clot cases, Pfizer’s Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Twitter that his company was boosting its production of vaccines to help cope with the loss of Johnson & Johnson doses.
Moderna also released a statement saying it did not find a link between its shot and other blood-clot events after more than 64 million doses had been administered internationally since last month.