Shot Clots vs. Pill Clots

An attempt to make the J&J vaccine risk look better makes the birth-control Pill look worse!


Life Issues

When the FDA recently paused rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, several articles in the mainstream press compared the risk of blood clots from the J&J shot to the clot risk from taking birth-control pills. The comparison was driven by the fact that all six vaccine clotting cases, which caused the FDA to pause, involved women between 18 and 48 years old.

Keeping in mind Humanae Vitae, which condemned artificial birth control and predicted various negative consequences that would result from widespread acceptance of it, one can’t help but hope that reminders of the dangers of “the Pill” will spark some hard thinking. Mainstream-media write-ups on vaccine clotting vs. Pill-clotting aimed to reassure readers that the vaccine risk is less than the Pill risk. But what about viewing it from the opposite angle: that year in and year out, women swallow risk for clots (and a host of other side effects, including cancer) with hardly a moment’s thought?

A Business Insider article titled “You are more likely to get a blood clot on birth-control pills than from the J&J vaccine — but not the same type of clot” (by Aylin Woodward and Anna Medaris Miller, Apr. 13, 2021) provides an example of press coverage that raises several unanswered questions. A link to the article is provided at bottom; first, a few highlights and questions:

  • All six vaccine clotting cases, which caused the FDA to pause, involved women between 18 and 48 years old. We’re told that “6.8 million Americans have gotten the J&J vaccine — so if clots are indeed linked to the vaccine (which is not yet known) they’re seen at a rate of less than one in 1 million.” But what if the bulk of those 6.8 million vaccinated so far have been elderly? Perhaps in the near future, more young females will get the J&J vaccine and drive that number up. Is it not possible, during or instead of the FDA’s pause, to just direct younger women to the other vaccine brands?
  • The article educates readers on the two types of clots in question: the reaction linked to the J&J shot is “a clot in the brain”; the type associated with birth-control pills typically occurs “in veins inside the thigh or calf.” The incidence of clotting caused by the J&J shot, at around one in a million, is put in context against the brain-clot risk within the general population, which is “5 out of 1 million” annually.
  • The general clot risk (in the leg, for example) for women not on birth control is “Up to 5 out of every 10,000.” For women on birth-control pills (over 10 years) it’s “Up to 1 out of every 100.” That’s a relatively high risk! This effort to marshal data in order to make the J&J shot look better makes the Pill look worse!
  • Judging from the data, many modern women hold pregnancy to be as bad or worse than a dread disease, such that they assume considerable risk to avoid procreation. A 18- to 48-year-old woman weighs COVID vaccine clot risks against the risk of grave illness and/or death. When she weighs the risk of using the Pill, with a much higher risk of clots, there is no threat of grave illness unto death forcing a trade-off. But from the data outlined above, you would think there is!
  • Dr. Melanie Davies, a London gynecologist and professor at University College London, presents the Pill-clot risk as “less than one in 1,000 chance” and “much less than the risk of getting blood clots in pregnancy and after childbirth.” But the time-frames of pregnancy and post-childbirth are extremely limited, whereas use of the Pill can go on for decades. And, how do we know those post-childbirth clots weren’t aggravated by mothers jumping right back on the Pill after birth? These days there are so few women living au naturel, it’s hard to believe the medical community even knows what’s normal. I’ll note here that the reticence of the scientific community to study and/or report on negative effects of hormonal birth control, and our culture’s general downplaying of the negative aspects of contraception, tends to undermines trust in all data related to it.

I suppose I’ll never understand why, as this FDA vaccine-pause demonstrates, so many people strain gnats when they’ve already swallowed the camel.

Link to the full article:


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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