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Dr. Fauci slams mayor for allegedly rejecting Johnson & Johnson shots

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The mayor of Detroit reportedly rejected Johnson & Johnson vaccines for his city, telling the feds the shots just aren’t as good as Moderna’s and Pfizer’s versions — prompting a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday.

“We’ve got to get away from this issue of comparing one against the other except to say that we have a highly efficacious group of three vaccines,” Fauci said when asked about Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s reported decision to reject more than 6,000 Johnson & Johnson doses this week.

“In the important area of preventing disease leading to hospitalization, and death, [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] is virtually 100 percent,” he insisted at a White House press briefing. “I would just take the vaccine that is the most readily available.”

His comments came after Duggan declined to receive 6,200 doses of the newly approved single-shot Johnson & Johnson jabs for the city, a public information officer with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services told Crain’s Detroit.  

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks in Detroit. Mayor Duggan this week turned down 6,200 doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, favoring shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks in Detroit. Duggan this week turned down 6,200 doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, favoring shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
AP

The doses were instead sent to “other health departments that had lower coverage rates for those age 65 years or older,” the officer said. 

Duggan later appeared to double down on his decision Thursday, saying, “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 that residents of the city of Detroit get the best.”

The efficacy rates of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both roughly 94 percent after the second dose, according to the firms.

By contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is roughly 66 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
“We’ve got to get away from this issue of comparing one against the other except to say that we have a highly efficacious group of three vaccines,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Getty Images

But at the same press conference with Fauci on Friday, Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 Response Team, suggested that the Detroit mayor’s comments were misinterpreted.

“The mayor’s office has indicated after we talked to them that that was a misunderstanding. That was not the intent of those remarks,” Slavitt said.

“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,” the Biden administration adviser said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “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.”

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