Why is the FDA stalling on approving Johnson and Johnson's COVID vaccine?

You may be forgiven for thinking the current pandemic was a crisis requiring immediate, significant, and unprecedented government responses.  The news cycle and social media have been filled with doom and hysteria for almost a year.  We have run out of synonyms to describe the situation.  Disaster, calamity, and catastrophe are some of the milder descriptions we have heard.

Three thousand people per day are dying from the disease.  Yes, I know there is a difference between dying from a disease and dying with a disease.  I am using the government's own language and metrics to ask if it is really serious about its response to this disease. 

Why do we have to wait 22 days before the FDA decides to hold a meeting on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine?  We have known for weeks that the vaccine is safe.  Is the FDA really working "24/7," as so many people blithely claim?  How many more people has the FDA hired to evaluate the J and J vaccine?  Why was Moderna granted a hearing in 17 days and J and J has to wait an extra week?  The U.K. has safely and effectively inoculated over a million people using the AstraZeneca vaccine, and there isn't even a hearing scheduled for that drug.

An ongoing problem with the FDA for decades has been that it is to slow to approve life-saving drugs.   The people running the administration seemed to move somewhat faster than usual in approving therapies during the past year.  But old bureaucratic habits die hard.  Do thousands of people need to die because a drug is safe and has performed well in clinical trials, but the government can't hold a meeting on a weekend?  Let the people decide whether they should take the vaccine based on their own needs and the reputation of Johnson and Johnson.

Image: torstensimon via Pixabay, Pixabay License.