COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: Pfizer CEO remains unvaccinated, fears deadly effects of vaccine

Rappler.com
FALSE: Pfizer CEO remains unvaccinated, fears deadly effects of vaccine
Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla is fully vaccinated. He received his second Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in March 2021.
At a glance
  • Claim: Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla refuses to get vaccinated because he is afraid to die from the vaccine.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • Facts: Bourla is fully vaccinated. He received his second Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in March 2021. He did not get vaccinated sooner since he did not want to be an example of “cutting the line.” 
  • Why we’re fact-checking this: A Facebook page that made this claim, “Filipino Future,” has a history of sharing false information. The page has 60,098 likes and 135,443 followers, as of writing. 
Complete details

On January 11, 2022, the Facebook page “Filipino Future” uploaded a clip from an interview of Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla uploaded on December 14, 2020, where he explained why he had not yet received his COVID-19 vaccine. 

The video, which is over a year old, was captioned, “Takot mamatay sa bakuna ang CEO ng Pfizer kaya ayaw magpaturok. Alam kasi niya ang purpose nito.” (The Pfizer CEO does not want to get vaccinated because he is afraid to die from the vaccine. He knows its true purpose.)

As of writing, the video has gained over 9,700 views on Facebook. 

This post is false. 

In the interview aired by CNBC, Bourla shared that he had not yet been vaccinated at the time since he did not want to be an example of “cutting the line.” 

When the interview took place, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had just approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Due to the limited doses available, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities be prioritized for initial distribution.

Although Bourla’s company developed the vaccine, he is not a healthcare worker in the front lines. He said that neither he nor the Pfizer executives and board members would obtain special privileges to receive the vaccine earlier than expected.

Bourla further sought to quell the fears of those who were hesitant to get vaccinated, urging them to trust the scientific data backing the vaccine.

“This is a vaccine that was developed without cutting corners from a company with 171 years of credentials,” he said.

Bourla later went on to get fully vaccinated. He tweeted about his second Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose on March 11, 2021, Manila time.

Similar claims have also been fact-checked by other organizations.

In the Philippines, vaccination rollout has continued nearly two years into the pandemic, especially after the Department of Health (DOH) announced in December 2021 that all adults were eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

This is particularly timely as the country deals with a fresh surge in infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. According to Bourla, an Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine is in the works, and Pfizer hopes to launch it as early as March 2022. – Niña Diño/Rappler.com

Niña Diño is a Rappler Mover. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.