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White House responds to Duggan's J & J vaccine statement, mayor clarifies

Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 17:42:14-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Mayor Mike Duggan's decision to decline the first 6,200 COVID-19 vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson has gained national attention, including that of the White House.

Today, Duggan said the city looks forward to receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the next allotment.

Yesterday, he said it would only be useful if the time came when eligible Detroiters (who want the vaccine) outnumbered the Moderna and Pfizer supply. He said Pfizer and Moderna have met the city's needs so far.

Yesterday Duggan stated, "Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best, and I am going to make sure that I do everything I can to make sure residents of the City of Detroit get the best."

He said he declined the initial 6,200 doses because of Johnson & Johnson's lower efficacy rating.

Today, when questioned by City Council Duggan stated, "I am looking forward to receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the next allocation. Apparently, I did not say that clearly enough yesterday, but it was what I intended to say and it's what we are doing."

The mayor's initial comments caught Dr. Anthony Fauci's attention.

Fauci said during a White House COVID-19 briefing, "We've got to get away from this issue of comparing one with the other except to say that we have a highly efficacious group of three vaccines."

During that same Response Team briefing, White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said, “The mayor's office has indicated that, after we talked to them, that that was a misunderstanding."

Slavitt also stated, “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. We’ve been in constant dialogue with Mayor Duggan who said, in fact, that was not what he said, or however it was reported."

Channel 7 chief health editor Dr. Partha Nandi says comparing the three vaccines is unfair because Johnson & Johnson was tested after variants cropped up.

He says the main number to pay attention to is the vaccine's percentage with preventing serious illness.

Nandi explained, "Johnson & Johnson (has) 85% efficacy in preventing serious disease. So that's important and a hundred percent in mortality, meaning nobody died when they took the COVID vaccine from Johnson & Johnson."

Today, the mayor issued this full statement:

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.

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.

Earlier in the day, the mayor also issued this statement:

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. 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.