Reports that the Detroit mayor had rejected Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses based on its efficacy underscore a perception officials are trying to combat.

WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS on Friday knocked down a report that the mayor of Detroit was rejecting Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine doses over concerns about their efficacy and reiterated that the vaccine is highly effective.

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The reports out of Detroit underscore a key concern public officials are trying to combat: the perception that the J&J shot, which is administered in one dose, is less effective than its counterparts, which require two.

The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday that Detroit had declined 6,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after Mayor Mike Duggan said he wanted to protect Detroiters with a 95% effective vaccine, referring to Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines.

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“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,” Duggan said in a press conference Thursday.

However, when asked about Duggan rejection of the doses, senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt said Friday during a coronavirus briefing that those were “not the mayor’s comments” and the White House has been in touch with his office.

“In fact, he is very eager for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Slavitt said.

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Nonetheless, Duggan’s comments on Johnson & Johnson highlight the concerns public officials have that J&J’s vaccine will be seen as less effective and may even be outright rejected by people. Public health experts and providers say it’s necessary to emphasize to patients the benefits of J&J and urge people to get the first vaccine offered.

That’s what top infectious disease control expert Dr. Anthony Fauci did on Friday, reiterating that all three available vaccines are “highly efficacious.”

“All three of them have a very important effect of being extraordinarily effective in preventing severe disease and particularly preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.

Clinical trial data showed J&J’s vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease overall and 72% effective in the U.S. alone. The vaccine also was 85% effective overall against severe disease, preventing deaths completely and hospitalizations after a period of at least 28 days. By contrast, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have 94% and 95% efficacy rates against symptomatic COVID-19, respectively.

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However, as Fauci said again Friday, the three vaccines cannot be compared since that would’ve required a head-to-head comparison, which was not done.

“I would take the first available vaccines because the most important thing to do is to get vaccinated and not to try and figure out which one may be or may not be better than the other one,” Fauci said.

Tags: coronavirus, pandemic, Johnson & Johnson, Detroit, Michigan, vaccines, health, public health