Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine: Detroit Mayor Declines 6,200 Doses, Catholic Bishops Raise 'Moral Concerns'

Phil Hall
·3 min read

The rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) COVID-19 vaccine hit a pair of potholes this week as the mayor of Detroit said the city was sticking with Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) vaccines for now, highlighting Johnson & Johnson's lower efficacy rate, before walking back his comments.

And the nation's Catholic bishops questioned the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's morality because it was created from cell lines derived from an aborted human fetus.

Thanks, But No Thanks: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan declined to accept 6,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, and said the new vaccine has lower efficacy rates than the Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) vaccines.

“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 95% effective if you get two shots,” Duggan said during a Tuesday press conference. “Johnson & Johnson is one shot, which is nicer, but it’s about 67% effective."

Duggan's spokesman John Roach issued a follow-up statement the next day saying the city had enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to cover all of the upcoming week's scheduled vaccination appointments, according to coverage in the Detroit Free Press.

Roach added the city would accept the Johnson & Johnson vaccines “in the next round,” but would set up separate Johnson & Johnson vaccination sites and alert residents to the options between vaccines.

Duggan’s rejection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was seized upon Friday by Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response.

During a press briefing, Slavin suggested Duggan’s comments that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were inferior to the other vaccinations was a "misunderstanding" and he was not denigrating the vaccine.

“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,” Slavin said. “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.”

A Question Of Morality? Separately, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement expressing concern about how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was created.

“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production,” the bishops said in a press statement.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns.”

The bishops added that while it was “morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” they recommend that Catholic congregants consider which vaccine to accept.

“However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen,” the statement said. “Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”

A number of Roman Catholic dioceses across the country — including the dioceses in Knoxville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City and Syracuse — have also urged congregants to choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Vatican has not issued a statement related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and Pope Francis, who was vaccinated in January, told an Italian news station in January that being vaccinated against COVID-19 was “an ethical action, because you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”

JNJ Price Action: Johnson & Johnson shares ended Friday's session 1.98% higher at $156.10.

Image by HeungSoon/Pixabay.

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