With the emergency approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine having been granted by the FDA, three different pharmaceutical companies are shipping doses around the country. But which one is right for you? Does it make a difference which one you get? Appearing on Meet the Press this morning, Dr. Anthony “Move the Goalposts” Fauci urged everyone to not pay attention to such piddling details and just take whichever one is being offered when you’re given the chance. The doctor said that the nation now has “three highly efficacious vaccines” available and he described them all as being “quite good.” But that doesn’t explain some of the differences between them that have been explained in excruciating detail by both the government and the media.
In an interview with “Meet the Press,” Fauci said that he would take any of the three approved vaccines — from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson — because all provide strong protection from severe disease related to the coronavirus. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci was vaccinated late last year amid an early push to inspire confidence in the vaccine rollout.
“All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” he said.
“If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that’s the one that’s available now, I would take it. I personally would do the same thing. I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.”
Fauci can say what he likes, but I imagine there are a lot of people out there who have been paying attention to the varying stories told by the media, the CDC and Fauci himself over the past few months and they’re going to have questions. This may be a case of the government and the press working overtime to put out too much information to members of the public (such as myself) who are not medical experts but still want to make the best choices.
Take for example the efficacy rates reported for the various vaccines following clinical trials. The new J&J vaccine has been rated as being 72% effective against the strains of COVID tested in the United States. Conversely, both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines were as much as 95% effective. Not for nothing, but that’s a pretty significant difference. Fauci tried to brush off that question, saying that the public “should not be trying to compare the shots’ efficacy numbers side-by-side because each shot was examined in a different trial amid different circumstances.”
Pardon me for saying that his answer probably isn’t going to make people feel much better. What does that even mean? If the efficacy numbers vary from one trial to another, what use is that data? And if the numbers actually are meaningful and he’s trying to pull the same sort of thing he did when talking about herd immunity levels, who is going to want to go sign up for a vaccine that’s described as being more than twenty percent less effective than the other two?
Then there’s the difference between the number of jabs required. We’ve been repeatedly told how important it is to go back for your second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. (At least until they told us that some people might not need to.) Now the J&J vaccine comes along and you only need one dose of that? How sure are they? Again, people will have questions.
On top of all that, we’ve been getting all of this information about breakthrough mRNA technology used in this new generation of vaccines. I’ve tried to slog through some of the reports on how it works, but it’s complicated. It took no time at all for people to begin wondering if these vaccines are going to wind up messing up our DNA and produce an army of zombies or something.
Dr. Fauci’s answer to all of these issues seems to be “don’t worry, be happy.” Don’t concern yourself with all of these complicated issues and just trust us. But given his track record of inconsistency thus far, is Anthony Fauci really the right messenger to be selling this to the public? As usual, your mileage may vary.