Public Health

Detroit Mayor rejects first cargo of J&J vaccines, calling Pfizer, Moderna “the most effective.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan turned down an initial allocation of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 single vaccine this week, according to the Michigan State Department of Health.

At a news conference Thursday, Duggan confirmed that he had refused to grant J&J vaccines from the state this week, citing sufficient supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to meet demand from eligible residents.

“Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure the Detroit city residents get the best,” Duggan said at a news conference Thursday.

The FDA on Saturday approved J & J’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. This makes it the third vaccine approved for distribution in the United States and the only vaccine that requires only one dose.

Clinical trial data shows that J & J’s vaccine provides 66% overall protection against Covid, compared to around 95% for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While some have raised concerns about the J&J vaccine’s lower rate of effectiveness, the J&J vaccine has been shown to prevent 100% of virus-related hospitalizations and deaths, according to clinical trial data.

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

“Also, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been studied in a more recent period of time with more easily transmissible variants, so I would not recommend comparing the Pfizer and Moderna studies directly with the Johnson and Johnson studies,” Khaldun said.

At a news conference on Friday, Andy Slavitt, Senior White House Covid Advisor, said Duggan’s comments on the J&J vaccine had been misunderstood.

“We have had a constant dialogue with Mayor Duggan … He is very excited about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And I think we want to reiterate the message that the very first vaccine we can take makes perfect sense for all of us is take, “said Slavitt.

In a statement later Friday, Duggan reiterated the effectiveness of the J&J shot in preventing hospitalizations and Covid-related deaths.

“The only reason we decided not to take the first shipment from Johnson & Johnson was because we had the capacity with Moderna and Pfizer to handle the 29,000 first and second dose appointments planned for the coming week which has already brought us very close to our capacity at our current locations, “Duggan said in a statement on Friday.

The J&J allotment, rejected by Duggan, comprised 6,200 doses that were distributed to other local Michigan health departments, according to Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the state health department.

Wheaton said the state doesn’t expect to receive any more J&J vaccines “for a few weeks.”

Duggan said the city will open a new vaccination site for J&J shots if demand from eligible residents exceeds supply of Moderna and Pfizer cans.

“We always planned to distribute Johnson & Johnson as soon as demand warranted it, and we had our distribution plan so we could make it available to our residents as much as Moderna and Pfizer,” Duggan said in Friday’s statement. “By the time the next J&J broadcast arrives, we’ll have our plan to make it available.”

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