N.J. coronavirus update: Gov. Murphy believes people will trust J&J vaccine again

Despite public setbacks for the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy believes that people will ‘have faith’ in how safe the vaccine is.

Keidy Ventura receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J., Monday, April 19, 2021. Ventura wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect her multi-generational family that she lives with. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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New Jersey officials reported Wednesday an additional 3,614 COVID-19 cases; boosting the overall number of cases to 987,350.

There were an additional 46 deaths from the virus since yesterday, raising the toll to 22,660. The state is now looking into 2,611 probable deaths from the coronavirus.

The rate of transmission is currently at 0.93.

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As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, there were 2,114 hospitalizations, 455 patients are in ICU, 248 are on ventilators.

‘The faith will come back’ in J&J vaccine, Murphy says

Despite an ongoing pause in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a scathing report about one of the plants that made the vaccine, Gov. Phil Murphy believes that people will trust the vaccine again.

According to an Economist/YouGov poll, about half of those surveyed considered the J&J vaccine safe before a pause in distributing the vaccine was implemented by federal officials. After the pause, that number fell to 37%.

In addition to the pause, a scathing report from the Food and Drug Administration cites several serious failures at a manufacturing plant in Baltimore where a reported 15 million doses worth of the J&J vaccine were ruined. The 12-page report portrays a plant with systemic problems, according to The Washington Post.

The New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical giant nor Emergent BioSolutions — the plant involved — has yet to confirm the exact number of doses that were ruined.

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Murphy said he only saw headlines about the report. He also noted that the state’s 200,000 doses of the J&J vaccine currently being stored did not come from the Baltimore plant.

Despite the setbacks, Murphy said “I think the faith will come back” for the vaccine.

“The pause over the blood clots is proof that the system is working [to keep us safe],” Murphy said. He added that federal officials uncovering failings at the Baltimore plant also proves that safeguards are in place.

Confidence in federal officials was also echoed by Dr. Edward Lifshitz, medical director of the state Department of Health.

“I have, as I said before, tremendous faith in the career scientists and the people in the federal government at the FDA [and] at CDC who look into these things and are paying close attention,” said Lifshitz.

Use of the J&J vaccine in the U.S. has been on hold since Apr. 13 as federal officials investigate six cases of blood clots in people after they were inoculated. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the Biden administration, told NPR Monday that he expects a decision on whether to continue use of the vaccine on Friday.

Both Murphy and Lifshitz remained bullish when it came to the prospects of the J&J vaccine. Because the vaccine can be stored in a regular refrigerator and only requires one dose, officials say that it will help vaccinate people in hard-to-reach places.

“It’s a huge weapon for us as it relates to equity,” Murphy said.

Lifshitz added that the department has heard “anecdotally” that many look forward to the J&J vaccine because of the “one-and-done aspect of it.”

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