Looking back at what I wrote yesterday, I had been mulling the various options:
- Say nothing, do nothing. Don’t announce the investigation into the blood clots, don’t pause the vaccine.
- Say something, do nothing. Announce you’re investigating, but don’t pause the vaccine.
- Say nothing, do something. Don’t publicly announce it, but quietly tell states not to use the vaccine while you investigate.
- Say something, do something. This is what is currently happening.
Clearly the third option wouldn’t work. It would eventually be reported, at which point it seems obvious that you were trying to hide ‘something’ and mistrust of not just the vaccine, but the entire apparatus and the government overall goes through the roof.
Between the first two options, the latter is better than the former. If you just ignore that there could maybe be a link between the vaccine and these clots, it would make the world question what else you’ve been ignoring or overlooking. Once the question of if these vaccines could lead to clots, even in rare cases, it warrants some sort of investigative action.
Saying something seems like the right move. But should any action be taken regarding the vaccine on the meantime? This has the most gray area, and I think coming down on the side of “do something” makes the most sense for the argument given yesterday – you want primary care physicians and other front-line workers to take notice. Pausing the vaccine did just that.
The argument for “say something, do nothing” is that by doing something you’ll make everyone take notice, not just the PCP’s and front-line workers. The uneducated masses will interpret the pause as a negative, and will become suspicious of the vaccine and perhaps all vaccines, thus reducing the overall population who vaccinate. There’s a decent argument the other way, though. If you say something and do nothing and claim “we’re investigating this vaccine which might cause blood clots but hey keep using it it’s fine these clots are super rare,” does that lead to less panic, or more? Folks who are suspicious of the government and large social programs (such as this mass vaccination drive) are going to latch on to that (really any) negative news announcement and claim that because you continued administering the vaccine despite announcing it was (maybe, somewhat) unsafe, that therefore you’re just lying to everyone about the vaccine overall. Tucker Carlson and other nut bags on TV could certainly broadcast that message widely.
In the meantime, by not placing a pause on the vaccine distribution, you’ve not effectively warned the PCP’s and front-line workers. You may sow distrust or discord with them, too! Those folks could look at your hesitance to place even a brief pause on the J&J vaccine as a sign you’re bending to political pressure over the pure science.
In a no-win situation like this, going with “the truth” or the answer which most closely adheres to your honest principals seems the wisest course of action. The die had already been cast once the vaccine had any credible link to blood clots.