No, Pfizer’s CEO Did Not Refuse to Take the COVID-19 Vaccine

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In March and April 2021, extensively shared social media posts falsely claimed that Albert Bourla, the Greek CEO of the pharmaceutical multinational firm Pfizer, had refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine produced by his personal firm, in collaboration with the German firm BioNTech. Anti-vaccine commentators and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists seized upon this purported admission as proof that the vaccine was, in truth, dangerous. 

On March 24, the Facebook web page Tru York, which routinely posts baseless and probably harmful misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed a video with the banner headline “PFEIZER [sic] CEO REFUSES VACCINE.” The video contained a brief clip of Bourla, in a tv interview, responding to a query about when he himself supposed to obtain the vaccine. Bourla is proven saying: 

“The sooner I can, I will. The only sensitivity here, Meg, is that I don’t want to have an example that I’m cutting the line, that I’m 59 years old, in good health, I’m not working in the front line. So my type is not recommended to get [the] vaccination now. So that’s one consideration.”

Alongside the video, social media customers additionally shared memes that claimed Bourla had “refused” to take Pfizer’s personal COVID-19 vaccine. The caption on the video shared by Tru York was false and deceptive in two precept methods.

Firstly, the footage itself doesn’t present Bourla refusing to take the vaccine. Rather, he expresses enthusiasm about that prospect (“The sooner I can, I will”), however explains the comprehensible place that he hadn’t but taken it as a result of he needed to keep away from the look of utilizing his place of privilege to take the vaccine forward of older and extra medically susceptible people.

Secondly, the interview in query was recorded months earlier, and Bourla had in truth taken the vaccine by the time Tru York revealed the video, and different social media customers posted comparable memes.

In an interview with Axios reporter Caitlin Owens, broadcast on HBO on March 7, Bourla stated he had obtained the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine round three weeks earlier, which means a while in February 2021. In a tweet on March 10, Bourla posted {a photograph} of himself receiving what he described as the second dose:

The Tru York video was subsequently posted two weeks after Bourla went on report has having obtained two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. By distinction, the interview footage during which Bourla defined why he had not but obtained the vaccine, however was wanting ahead to doing so, was really recorded three months earlier.

That interview was broadcast by CNBC’s Squawk Box on Dec. 14, 2020, and will be considered beneath. Interviewer Meg Tirrell requested Bourla “I’ve heard you have not yet had your shot. When do you plan to get it?” Bourla’s response is value together with in full, as a result of he affords a extra in-depth clarification of the dilemma of when to take the vaccine than what was included in the subsequent Tru York video:

The sooner I can, I’ll. The solely sensitivity right here, Meg, is that I don’t need to have an instance that I’m reducing the line, that I’m 59 years previous, in good well being, I’m not working in the entrance line. So my sort isn’t really helpful to get [the] vaccination now. So that’s one consideration. On the different hand, our firm [has] run a whole lot of polls to see what would take folks to imagine it. And certainly one of the highest-ranking [responses], even greater than if Joe Biden takes it, even greater than if different presidents take it, is that if the CEO of the firm takes it.

So with that it thoughts, I’m making an attempt to discover a manner that I’ll get vaccinated, [even] if it’s not my time, simply to show the confidence of the firm. But we now have decided that if we now have to try this, we won’t do it with our executives, so none of the executives or board members would minimize the line — they’d take it as their age and occupation sort — it’s time for them to take [it]. 

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