Duggan Clarifies His Misunderstood Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Comments, White House Chimes In

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke earlier this week about the newly released Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was described as not quite up to par as Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, which he called “the best vaccines,” resulting in the White House COVID-19 response team responding, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“I do think it’s important to clarify that that was not actually the mayor’s intent and that was not the mayor’s comment,” White House COVID-19 response team senior adviser Andy Slavitt told the Free Press regarding Detroit not taking the 6,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine earlier this week.

In Friday statements, Duggan said that “every single eligible Detroiter can call today, make an appointment, and will receive a Moderna/Pfizer vaccine next week at the TCF center.”

“As vaccine eligibility expands, Detroit will open a second site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” Duggan said. “I have full confidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is both safe and effective. We are making plans now for Johnson & Johnson to be a key part of our expansion of vaccine centers and are looking forward to receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the next allocation.”

He followed up with another statement about how the city of Detroit is “excited” that there are now three highly effective vaccines that will save lives.

“The data from the clinical trials is clear – the FDA, the CDC, and Dr. Fauci all have been clear – Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all highly effective at what we care about most, which is preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” Duggan said. “The only reason we chose to not accept the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson was that we had enough capacity with Moderna and Pfizer to handle the 29,000 first and second dose appointments scheduled for the coming week, which already put us very close to our capacity at our current locations.

“We always intended to distribute Johnson & Johnson once the demand warranted it and we had our distribution plan in place so we can make it just as accessible to our residents as we have Moderna and Pfizer. By the time the next J&J shipment arrives, we will have our plan in place to make it available.”

Slavitt said Duggan’s comments were a “misunderstanding,” the article reported.

“We’ve been in constant dialogue with Mayor Duggan who said, in fact, that was not what he said, and/or however, it was reported. In fact, he’s very eager for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And I think we would reiterate the message that for all of us, the first vaccine we have an opportunity to take makes absolute sense to take. So thank you for allowing us to clarify that,” Slavitt said in the article.

The article added that in statements the mayor made Tuesday, he said that Detroit wasn’t getting Johnson & Johnson doses this week because the city was going to protect “Detroiters with a 95% vaccine.”

He referred to the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, which were revealed to be 94% and 95% effective in clinical trials, in comparison with Johnson & Johnson’s, which was 66% effective in global trials and 72% effective when tested in the U.S. studies, the article stated. Trials also suggest Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine prevents severe COVID-19 illness in 85% of people and preventing hospitalizations and deaths in all people after 28 days post-injection.

This comes on the heels of President Joe Biden saying that the United States can expect to have more than enough coronavirus vaccine for all adults by the end of May — a promise that is two months earlier than initially expected, according to an ABC News article.

Biden announced Tuesday that drugmaker company Merck will help produce competitor Johnson & Johnson’s recently approved one-shot vaccine, comparing the partnership between the two drug companies to the “spirit of national cooperation during World War II,” the article added.

Mary Sheffield, Detroit City Council president pro-tem represents District 5 and said in the article yesterday that it might have been more efficient for the city to have taken the 6,200 doses that were offered by the state, and used them to open another vaccine clinic site.

“Given the limited supply of available vaccines nationwide, the struggles and loss of life Detroiters have experienced, due to COVID-19, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s efficacy in terms of preventing hospitalizations and death, I believe it would be a huge mistake to refuse to accept the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” she said in the article.

“In addition, Detroiters and African Americans, in general, have very low vaccination rates already. So any attempt to discount the efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could have grave health consequences in the African American community if there is a need to rely on it in the future.”

Detroit City Councilman Roy McCalister Jr., who represents District 2, said that while he was concerned the city didn’t take the Johnson & Johnson doses this week, he was glad to receive clarification from Duggan’s follow-up comments.

“The fact of the matter is … that we are in a pandemic. And we are getting a handle on this. And every source that we can utilize to assist our citizens and to get over this … in my opinion is necessary,” McCalister said in the article. “Whether it’s Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, whatever. Whatever can assist these people as long as it’s viable and there’s nothing that’s gonna cause people to have problems, then, ya know, I’m for it.”

Even though Detroit didn’t accept 6,200 doses this week, other local health departments and hospitals around the state are asking for more vaccines, per the article.

On March 3, 7,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Oakland County Health Division today, county officials reported. That’s 700 more doses than the county originally expected to receive.


“With the news that Merck is going to be joining with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture this one-dose vaccine, this increased supply of vaccine will help accelerate the end to the pandemic,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in a press release. “We are making steady progress in vaccinating Oakland County residents with nearly one in five having received their first dose.”

Oakland County Health Division will be working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to determine the guidelines for administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Health Division will begin scheduling the doses once it receives that guidance.

Oakland County Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective.

“I am confident in the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Oakland County Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said. “All three COVID vaccines prevent death and severe illness, which is what most concerns us in public health.”

National health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, says that one vaccine is not better than another type — but overall, people should take any COVID-19 vaccine that’s offered to them.


From the Web