The claim: The CEO of Pfizer refused the COVID-19 vaccine
In attempt to cast doubt on the safety and efficiency of the coronavirus vaccines, one Facebook user shared a video claiming Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla refused to take the vaccine created by his company.
“#Pfeizer (sic) CEO Refuses to get COVID Vaccine,” reads the caption of the March 24 video on Facebook with over 3,100 shares and 1,500 reactions.
The video features an CNBC interview with Bourla in which he is asked when he will get vaccinated. In response, he says that he is 59 years old, in good health and is not working on the front lines so he “is not recommended to get vaccinated now.”
“As soon as 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,” Bourla says in the video, which also includes a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
In the second clip, Fauci tells CNN’s Brianna Keilar that he would not take a COVID-19 test after touching the same microphone as then-President Donald Trump because he was not experiencing any symptoms and practiced social distancing.
Following the video of Fauci is a clip of Dr. Oz attempting to persuade television personality Wendy Williams, who says she does not trust the coronavirus vaccination or flu shots, about the safety of the vaccine.
The video was shared by the Facebook page Tru York which has previously shared other videos discouraging people from getting vaccinated, according to FactCheck.org. USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook page for comment.
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Bourla has received Pfizer’s vaccine
The interview in which Bourla says he has not gotten vaccinated took place with CNBC on Dec. 14, three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Since the interview, Bourla has been vaccinated and 28.6% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and 15.8% has completed vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“That report is categorically false,” Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo told USA TODAY via email. “Dr. Bourla has been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”
Bourla told Axios on HBO that he felt “liberated” after receiving the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. He added that he would advise family members to get any vaccine, even if it is not the Pfizer shot.
“If it was the case, can I get a vaccine now — any vaccine now — or a vaccine that I prefer two months later, I would go with whatever I can get now,” Bourla said.
On March 10, Bourla tweeted: “Excited to receive my 2nd dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech #COVID19 vaccine.”
Fauci on testing
The included video clip of Fauci on CNN saying he would not take a COVID-19 test is from March 15, 2020, very early in the course of the pandemic in the U.S. and before tests for the virus were widely available to the public.
Later on in the interview, Fauci says, “Not everybody in the United States should take a test. I mean I have no symptoms, there’s no reason for me to take a test. If I’m in a situation where I’m at a higher risk, I will take a test.”
During that time health officials were advising Americans to only get tested for the virus if they were showing symptoms, according to the Associated Press.
Fauci received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 22 and got his second dose on Jan. 19. He told CNN, “Got it. So far, so good.”
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Our rating: False
The claim that the CEO of Pfizer refused the coronavirus vaccine is FALSE, based on our research. Pfizer confirmed that Albert Bourla has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Bourla shared images of him receiving the vaccine on Twitter and the interview clip of Bourla saying he had not yet received the vaccine is from Dec. 14.
Our fact-check sources:
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dec. 11, 2020, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
- Axios, March 7, “Pfizer CEO feels ‘liberated’ after taking COVID vaccine”
- Albert Bourla, March 10, tweet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed March 30, COVID Data Tracker
- Sharon Castillo email to USA TODAY
- CNN, March 15, 2020, “Keilar questions Fauci over picture with Trump”
- Associated Press, March 3, “Old video used to misrepresent Fauci position on virus testing”
- USA TODAY, Dec. 22, 2020, “Dr. Fauci receives newest COVID-19 vaccine”
- CNN, Jan. 19, “January 19 coronavirus news”
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.