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

Vial of the Janssen Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine from Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson via Reuters

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.

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

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 plans to market the J&J vaccine as a “key element” in expanding vaccine centers.

“Any eligible Detroit citizen can call today, make an appointment, and receive a Moderna / Pfizer vaccine at the TCF center next week,” Duggan said in a statement to Detroit City Council on Friday. “As the vaccine suitability increases, Detroit will open a second location selling Johnson & Johnson vaccines. I have every confidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is both safe and effective.”

“The day can come in March or April when every single Moderna and Pfizer [shot] committed and we still have people in need of a vaccine and at that point we are going to set up a Johnson & Johnson center. I don’t see that in the next few weeks, “said Duggan on Thursday.

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