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Feds’ foolish J&J vax pause is already undermining the war on COVID



Feds' foolish J&J vax pause is already undermining the war on COVID

A little more than a week ago, federal officials called for a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The decision came after reports of six cases of a blood clot in the veins of the brain, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST. That’s six out of more than 7 million jabs.

It was a big mistake, and new data show why. Since then, we have witnessed an 11 percent drop in the seven-day average of daily vaccines administered. That’s despite the nationwide loosening of vaccine eligibility criteria.

As I predicted in these pages, the pause would undermine already-fragile public confidence in the vaccines. Just before the pause, 52 percent of respondents thought the J&J vaccine was safe, according to an Economist/YouGov poll on vaccine-safety perceptions. That was roughly in line with beliefs about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — and twice as high as the 26 percent who believed J&J was unsafe.

After the pause, confidence in the J&J vaccine’s safety plummeted to 37 percent, and worries that it is unsafe rose to 39 percent. Thus far, confidence in the Pfizer and Moderna shots has held. But for how long remains a question.

More than a third of Americans remain vaccine-hesitant: that is, they tell pollsters that they will either definitely refuse the jabs, accept them only if required or wait and see how others do with vaccination. Among these groups, the top concern is serious side effects.

In monthly surveys between December 2020 and March 2021, the number of people who wanted to wait and see how others react to vaccination declined from 39 to 17 percent. In the wake of the J&J vaccine pause, no one should be surprised to see the percentage rise in the April survey, as yet unreleased.

The J&J vaccine is particularly important for protecting the homebound, the elderly and rural residents from contracting and dying from COVID-19. The other two vaccines authorized for use in the United States — Pfizer and Moderna — require freezers for transportation and storage and two shots. The J&J vaccine only needs regular refrigeration and a single shot, making it much easier to use for these hard-to-reach populations.

Without J&J, they might go unvaccinated altogether.

These populations also face far more risk of blood clots from contracting COVID-19 than they do from the J&J vaccine. A study from the University of Oxford found that the likelihood of CVST in the two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was 100 times the risk in the general population without the disease and about eight times the incidence following the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that uses a similar adenovirus platform as the J&J vaccine.

Put another way: Your risk of getting those CVST blood clots is much higher without the J&J vaccine.

A COVID diagnosis also boosted the likelihood of another type of potentially fatal blood clot, portal vein thrombosis, or clotting in the large vein that drains the intestinal tract.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met April 14, the day after the pause was imposed, and decided to continue the pause, collect more information and reconvene on April 23.

But in the meantime, the European Medicines Agency met and concluded that the benefit of the J&J vaccine in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths outweighs the “very rare” risk of vaccine-induced clots. The EMA only recommended that a warning should be added to the vaccine’s product information listing clots “as very rare side effects of the vaccine.” 

Unless some new information has emerged, the CDC’s advisory committee should follow the Europeans’ lead and rescind the pause. Otherwise, the agency risks permanently damaging trust in the J&J vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines in general, leading to more COVID-19 cases, more clots, more hospitalizations — and more deaths.

Joel Zinberg, M.D., is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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Jeff Bezos exposed as the king of fake news



Jeff Bezos exposed as the king of fake news

Wow: It now looks like Jeff Bezos and his damage-control team just made up not one but two whole stories to deflect coverage of his affair with a then-married woman: one, a claim that the Saudis had hacked his phone to get telling texts and revealing photos; two, charges that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him into halting his investigation into how the shots had leaked.

Eventually, the world learned that the guy who sold the info to the Enquirer was Bezos’ girlfriend’s brother, a Hollywood press agent — no hacking required and nothing to make the Enquirer fear any “investigation.”

Brad Stone’s new book, “Amazon Unbound,” excerpted for Bloomberg News, details how a consulting firm helped the Amazon CEO assemble his false counterstory, which relied on the suggestion that he’d been targeted because his Washington Post was so critical of both the Saudi regime and then-President Donald Trump — and allowed him to reveal the affair himself while pretending he was being heroic by refusing to be blackmailed.

Pretty masterful while it lasted . . . except that the owner of The Washington Post (“Democracy dies in darkness” is its self-righteous Bezos-era motto) now stands exposed as a cynical purveyor of fake news who even tried to frame a media outlet to protect his own image.

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No ethics needed for President Biden’s best buddies



No ethics needed for President Biden’s best buddies

Packing his administration with Big Labor operatives matters more to President Joe Biden than his own much-ballyhooed ethics rules, and he’s not even embarrassed about it.

With great fanfare his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order mandating that all his appointees “in every executive agency” sign an “ethics pledge” that “contractually committed” them to refraining from participating “in any particular matter on which” they lobbied, along with “the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls,” for two years. They also couldn’t “seek or accept employment with any executive agency with respect to which” they lobbied for two years.

The media touted this “revolving-door ban” as far tougher than the Obama and Trump rules. Oops: It turns out Team Biden is handing out truckloads of ethics waivers to labor-union veterans.

The latest winner is Celeste Drake, Biden’s pick to head his new Made in America Office. Ethics restrictions that would have stopped her from communicating with previous employers the AFL-CIO and the Directors Guild of America won’t apply, Axios reports. “The successful accomplishment” of her “mission” requires “extensive, open and collaborative communications” between her office and Big Labor, a White House lawyer claimed in a disclosure memo.

In March, Team Biden waived rules for the Office of Personnel Management’s new director of intergovernmental affairs, Alethea Predeoux. Her work as the head lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees should have precluded her from any job at OPM.

Biden has given union hacks senior posts in the departments of Labor, Homeland Security and Education, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Not to mention letting the American Federation of Teachers dictate language to the Centers for Disease Control for its guidelines on school reopenings.)

And of course his larger agenda is one long union giveaway, from overturning state right-to-work laws to dumping trillions subsidizing and creating new unionized jobs.

Responding to the Axios report, a White House flack declared, “President Biden has stood strong for unions throughout his career, and he’s proud to have leading labor voices in the White House and throughout his administration helping to enact that agenda.”

In other words, ethics rules don’t apply to his besties.

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I lived through NYC’s bad old days and know Eric Adams can get it back on track



I lived through NYC's bad old days and know Eric Adams can get it back on track

Most of the mayoral candidates running in New York’s June 22 Democratic primary don’t seem to notice: The city is slipping back to the bad old days of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is the exception.

I was New York City Council president at that time; then-NYPD Sgt. Eric Adams used to come into my office to talk to me about the city, safety and crime, seniors and New York’s economic problems.

New York City was facing widespread lawlessness. Crime statistics were shooting up. Folks were fleeing the city. Seniors did not feel safe. Houses and apartments sold at bargain rates. Black and brown communities were suffering. The economy was down. The problems were endless.

Eric and I talked about crime, about increasing the police force and about the economy. He was worried about the city and its future.

Here we are again, 30 years later. And the choice we make for mayor will determine the future of New York.

Back then, Eric was smart, complicated and always thinking outside the box. He still is. Which is why I am going to vote for him: Eric Adams is the candidate who is going to move New York City ahead on the right trajectory. 

We cannot allow New York to once again become a city saturated with fear, insists Adams. At the same time, he notes, we face “a crisis of confidence in our police.” I agree: We can’t be asked to stand against the police; we must be for a better police force.

Some of the Democratic candidates talk about reducing the force. Yet Adams knows that if you don’t have a strong police force and a strong presence in every community, you’re not going to have a safe, strong city where jobs can come back for everyone.

He envisions a police force that connects precincts to the people and empowers communities to have a say in their precinct leadership. He’ll require the NYPD to keep lists of cops with records of complaints and violent incidents.

Meanwhile, the recent surge in shootings is frightening our seniors, our middle class and black and brown communities. Tourists don’t feel safe. Whether the shooting is in Times Square, Brownsville or Fordham Plaza, it must stop. Seniors are afraid to walk the streets in the middle of the day. Stray bullets are killing people.

Adams has the knowledge and the courage to staunch this spike. He believes New York’s economy will grow when the streets are safe. Small businesses can’t make a comeback until the streets are filled with employees.

Last Sunday, my good friend John Catsimatidis interviewed the beep on his radio show. Adams stressed that he’s concerned wealthy New Yorkers are leaving the city and believes a cleaner, safer New York would help keep them here.

“I don’t join the chorus that tells the 65,000 New Yorkers that are paying 51 percent of our income tax and are only 2 percent of our income-tax filers, I don’t join in the chorus that states, ‘So what if they leave?’” explained Adams. “I am just the opposite; I join the chorus that tells them, ‘We need you here.’”

Again, I fully agree. New York City is now in fierce competition with Florida and Texas to keep our financial leaders in the Big Apple. Florida’s cities are relatively new and clean — and they’re courting New Yorkers aggressively.

COVID-19 has driven many of our residents south, in search of more open space and sunshine. We’re in a really tough fight to keep these leaders of our economy here in New York, when other cities are offering them attractive alternatives and Zoom makes it possible to work from home.

I frequently run into folks who remember my investigation of nursing-home abuses and my advocacy for seniors and senior-citizen centers. When we talk about the mayor’s race they say, “We need a tough mayor who is going to stop crime and get the city on the right track.” They’re right. And that’s precisely why I’m endorsing Eric Adams for mayor.

Andrew Stein (D) was president of the New York City Council from 1986 to 1994.

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