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Pfizer CEO received vaccine, did not refuse it

March 26, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The CEO of Pfizer refuses to get the COVID vaccine. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Albert Bourla, the chair and CEO of Pfizer, received his second vaccine dose on March 10, according to a Pfizer spokesperson and a photo Bourla posted to Twitter showing him receiving the injection. 

THE FACTS: A video on social media is trying to spread doubt about COVID-19 vaccines by falsely claiming the Pfizer head “refuses” to get the vaccine his company created. In fact, Bourla has already received two shots.

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“Albert Bourla received his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on March 10, 2021,” Pfizer spokesperson Faith Salamon told The Associated Press in an email.

Bourla shared a photo of himself receiving his second shot on March 10 to Twitter with a post that said, “Excited to receive my 2nd dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech#COVID19 vaccine. There’s nothing I want more than for my loved ones and people around the world to have the same opportunity.”

A popular video that includes the false banner, “PFEIZER CEO REFUSES VACCINE,” has been shared thousands of times on Facebook. Some of the letters in the word “vaccine” have been replaced with an image of a coronavirus particle and a syringe.

The video includes a clip of an old interview Bourla did with CNBC. The interview dates back to Dec. 14, but there is no indication of the date in the video.

In that interview, host Meg Tirrell asked when Bourla planned to get the shot. According to the CNBC transcript, Bourla responded: “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.” He went on to say he is 59, in good health, and not a frontline worker. “My type is not recommended to get vaccination right now,” Bourla said.

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In his remarks, he never “refused” to get the vaccine -- he simply noted that, at the time, it wasn’t yet his turn.

The same video also included an old clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infection-disease expert, saying on CNN he had no reason to get tested for COVID-19 because he had no symptoms. That clip was recorded on March 15, 2020, before COVID-19 tests were readily available, though the video does not acknowledge the interview is a year old. 

The video concludes with a clip of television host Wendy Williams telling Dr. Oz that she does not plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536