Detroit mayor rejects initial J&J vaccine shipment, saying Pfizer and Moderna are 'the best'

1 month ago

Vials of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine

Johnson & Johnson via Reuters

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan rejected an initial allotment of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, citing sufficient supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to cover demand from eligible residents.

"Johnson and Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure that residents of the city of Detroit get the best," Duggan said at a Thursday press briefing.

The FDA on Saturday authorized J&J's Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the third shot to be approved for distribution in the U.S. and the only vaccine that requires just one dose

Clinical trial data shows J&J's vaccine is 66% effective overall at protecting against Covid, compared with about 95% for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While some have raised concern over the J&J vaccine's lower efficacy rate, the J&J vaccine has proven to prevent 100% of virus-related hospitalizations and deaths, according to its clinical trial data.

"All of the vaccines are safe and effective and I recommend that all vaccines be offered in all communities," Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive, said in a statement to CNBC.

"Also, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was studied in a more recent time period with more easily transmitted variants, so I would not recommend comparing the studies with Pfizer and Moderna directly to the studies on Johnson and Johnson," Khaldun said.

At a Friday press briefing, White House senior Covid advisor Andy Slavitt said Duggan's comments on the J&J vaccine were misunderstood.

"We have been in constant dialogue with Mayor Duggan ... He is very eager for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And I think we would reiterate the message that for all us, the very first vaccine we can take makes absolutely sense to take," Slavitt said.

Duggan said on Thursday the city received 29,000 doses for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines this week.

"Every single eligible Detroiter can call today, make an appointment, and will receive a Moderna/Pfizer vaccine next week at the TCF center," Duggan said Friday in a statement to Detroit's city council. "As vaccine eligibility expands, Detroit will open a second site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  I have full confidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is both safe and effective."

Duggan said the city was making plans to distribute the J&J vaccine as a "key part" when it expands vaccine centers.

"The day may come in March or April when every single Moderna and Pfizer (shot) is committed and we still have people who need a vaccine, and at that point we'll set up a Johnson and Johnson center. I don't see that in the next couple of weeks," Duggans said Thursday.

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