Detroit Mayor Changes Tune on J&J Vaccine After Getting Blasted for Being 'Ignorant' and 'Irresponsible'

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Posted: Mar 06, 2021 1:30 PM
Detroit Mayor Changes Tune on J&J Vaccine After Getting Blasted for Being 'Ignorant' and 'Irresponsible'

Source: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) took a different tone towards the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Friday after receiving backlash for declining a shipment of 6,200 doses of J&J’s vaccine.

In a press conference on Thursday, Duggan argued the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are better and he wants residents to have “the best.”

“Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the city of Detroit get the best," he said.

Duggan noted that Detroit received enough doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines to inoculate all eligible residents so far who wanted one.

Dr. Leana Wen, ex-Planned Parenthood president, blasted Duggan for his approach. 

“Johnson & Johnson has many distinct advantages, too, including being one shot and so, people who don't like needles, people who don't want the inconvenience of coming back for a second shot, people who want to be fully vaccinated sooner, there is a real advantage for them,” she said. “And so, it's really inexplicable and I think irresponsible for Mayor Duggan and for others who are making that kind of decision to turn down a safe and highly effective vaccine."

CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner called Duggan’s initial remark about the J&J vaccine “ignorant” and “very unproductive.”

“That was a sadly ignorant comment by the Detroit mayor,” Reiner said.

“The only number that people need to know about the J&J vaccine is 100. It’s 100 percent effective in that clinical trial in preventing hospitalization and death,” he continued. “To have the mayor really throw shade on this vaccine is really very unproductive at best.”

Other public health experts touted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

In an article published Friday in The Conversation, an academic journal, authors including Tinglong Dai, an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business and an expert in medical supply chain issues, said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a "game changer" since it does not need to be frozen and requires only one dose.  [...]

The single-shot vaccine has an efficacy level of 66% compared with an efficacy level of 90% for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Dai said. 

But the clinical trials for the two-dose vaccines took place before the arrival of variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," Dai said.  

Johnson & Johnson clinical trial data show the vaccine is effective in fighting the variants that emerged in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. In terms of preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths, results of the Johnson & Johnson clinical trials were comparable with those of Pfizer and Moderna.  (The Detroit News)

After the criticism, including a discussion with the White House, Duggan said he had "full confidence" in J&J's vaccine and that the city is "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.”