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'I want to reassure you': De Villa weighs in on Johnson & Johnson blood clot risk

Last Updated Apr 14, 2021 at 6:31 pm EDT

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto attends a news conference in Toronto, on Monday, January 27, 2020, as officials provide an update on the coronavirus in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Toronto’s medical officer of health is telling city and provincial residents not to believe everything they read on social media about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Eileen de Villa says the risk of blood clots with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one-in-one-million.

“I want to reassure you, news about the vaccines emerges frequently,” she said. “There is a lot of information available on the internet and some very unqualified vaccine skeptics sowing fear and misinformation through social media.”

To put the risk level in perspective, Dr. de Villa says the chance of anyone dying in an accident at home in the next year is 1-in-7,100 while the chance of being hit by an airplane crashing into your home is one-in-250,000.


RELATED: Health Canada concludes AstraZeneca vaccine outweighs blood clot risk


Of the four vaccines currently approved for use in Canada, Johnson & Johnson is the only one that requires a single dose to be fully effective.

That makes it ideal for hard-to-reach, vulnerable groups, such as those who are homeless or migrant workers.

It’s not clear if the exceedingly rare reports in the U.S. – so far, six cases out of about 7 million inoculations – are linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Health Canada says the risk of getting a blood clot is four in one million.

The clotting syndrome, now known as VIPIT, occurs when the body’s immune system begins to attack blood platelets, leading to clots.

Health Canada says scientists have figured out what is happening but they haven’t been able to explain how the vaccine is causing it.

Experts also agree COVID-19 poses a much larger risk of death and hospitalization than the potential threat of atypical clots.

But the concerns could still undermine public confidence in these vaccines and in the entire vaccination effort.

European regulators already have declared that the unusual type of clots is possibly linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is made with technology similar to Johnson & Johnson’s product.


With files from The Associated Press

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