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If these facts don’t shake your faith in Big Pharma, I don’t know what will
From the early days of the Covid vaccine rollout, the official Covid narrative being touted by Big Government and Big Media was that the Covid vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines, were an unmitigated blessing, and that anyone who expressed any serious doubts about the efficacy or safety of the vaccines, or about the behaviour of the pharmaceutical industry, could not be taken seriously because either (a) they were “conspiracy theorists” who were just projecting irrational hostility toward Big Pharma, or (b) their nay-saying and doubting must be evil, because it was, after all, promoting “vaccine hesitancy.”
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This narrative, as long as it dominated Big Media and Big Government, was extremely convenient for the pharmaceutical industry because it prevented their behaviour and their products from getting any serious public scrutiny, and effectively ensured that criticisms of their products or behaviour would be Dead On Arrival. Indeed, the demonisation of critics of Big Pharma was so successful that serious criticism of the industry was silenced not only on the airwaves, but in many parts of society which had bought the official narrative hook, line, and sinker.
As the official fear-mongering surrounding Covid-19 finally subsides, and the public hysteria recedes, this is as good a time as any to remind people that the pro-Pharma narrative they have been fed is hard to square with what we now know about the behaviour of Big Pharma actors both before and during the pandemic.
Ms Janine Small, representing Pfizer at a Covid hearing in the European Parliament (on October 10th 2022), spoke glowingly of Pfizer’s willingness to invest its money “at risk” in research and development and its noble desire to “help with the pandemic.” She also spoke of Pfizer’s willingness to sell its products at reduced prices in the developing world, to promote more health “equity.” You would come away from some of her remarks with the distinct impression that Pfizer is some sort of global charity.
Of course, it is possible that some employees of Pfizer, some of the time, have noble and high-minded intentions to make the world a better place. But this possibility should not make us so teary-eyed as to overlook the many ways in which the pharmaceutical industry has manifestly betrayed the trust of ordinary citizens, as well as political leaders.
Now, there will be some out there who are “true believers” and so, no matter how many uncomfortable facts they are exposed to, they will keep putting their faith uncritically in the pharmaceutical industry and its products. There will be others who would prefer to turn a blind eye to the truth about Big Pharma companies, because otherwise they would feel very foolish for having put their faith uncritically in this industry for the past two years. If you belong to either of these two groups, you might as well stop reading right now.
For those who do not have a quasi-religious faith in Big Pharma, and can still distinguish between Mother Teresa and Mr Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, I expect that the following documented facts about the pharmaceutical industry, and specifically about Pfizer, one of the leading global providers of Covid vaccines, will deal a major blow to whatever faith they had in Big Pharma up to this point (I challenge any so-called “fact-checker,” no matter who they work for, to prove that any of the following assertions are either inaccurate or misleading):
History of large fraud settlements: Let’s start with a bit of history: Between 2004 and 2018, Pfizer had to pay out over 5 billion US dollars in cases involving allegations of false claims, kickbacks and bribery, unapproved promotion of medical products, and medical equipment safety offenses, as laid out on this Violation Tracker site. In what the US Department of Justice describes as the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history, Pfizer paid out 2.3 billion US dollars to resolve criminal and civil allegations that the company illegally promoted uses of four of its drugs, as announced by the US Department of Justice on September 2nd, 2009.
Worrying whistleblower report on the vaccine trials: But that’s in the past, right? What about Pfizer’s contribution to the production and delivery of vaccinations during the pandemic? Has Pfizer mended its ways and embraced integrity and transparency in spite of its dodgy track record? I’m afraid the available evidence for this is not exactly promising. To begin with, a respected British medical journal, the BMJ, published a whistleblower report detailing serious flaws in the processes used to gather data in the trials carried out by Pfizer for its own vaccines:
“A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson (video 1), emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails.”
Misleading and scientifically unsupported statements by Pfizer boss on vaccine’s efficacy at blocking transmission: Pfizer’s CEO, Mr Albert Bourla, has made numerous statements that either assert or strongly imply that he knew that his vaccine was likely to successfully stop infections and viral transmission, even though his own representative, Ms Janine Small, recently confirmed to an EU Covid commmittee that Pfizer never actually tested the vaccines for their ability to stop transmission before they went to market. Data emerging since the vaccine rollout shows that the vaccine, while it might reduce transmission for a few months, has very little success at reducing viral transmission over the long term. Mr Bourla knew very well, as the CEO of Pfizer, that he did not have good data to support the notion that the vaccine would successfully stop transmission for anything more than a few months, yet several of his public statements suggest that it does:
On December 4th 2020, Mr Bourla admitted that the vaccine’s impact on transmission was something that needed to be “examined,” and that “we are not certain about that right now with what we know." Without properly conducted trials or real-world data gathered over many months, neither Mr Bourla nor anyone else could state with any certainty whether or not the vaccine could successfully block transmission in the medium to long term. Yet, barely 6 months later, on June 8th 2021, Mr Bourla changed his tune and tweeted, “Although data shows that severe #COVID19 is rare in children, widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop transmission. That’s why I’m excited we have begun dosing participants aged 5 to 11 in a global Phase 2/3 study of the Pfizer-BioNTech #COVID19 vaccine.” Where was the evidence that his vaccines were or could be “a critical tool to help stop transmission”?
Similarly, in an exclusive interview on Today aired on September 8th 2020, Mr Bourla appealed to listener’s solidarity with their neighbours, asserting (at 3:55 in the video below) that “their decision (to vaccinate or not to vaccinate), they need to understand, will not only affect their lives, which at the end of the day, is their judgment, but will affect the lives of others. Because if they don’t vaccinate, they will become the weak link that will allow this virus to replicate.” This statement, however rhetorically clever, was made without any solid scientific evidence to back it up. When real-world data did emerged over time, from places like England and Israel (see my post on this topic from January 26th 2022), overall observed rates of infection in the population turned out to be very similar among vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens, especially with the emergence of new variants like Omicron.
And finally, Pfizer Inc’s official Twitter account tweeted on January 13th, 2021, that “the ability to vaccinate at speed to gain herd immunity and stop transmission is our highest priority…” So those who say that Pfizer never suggested the vaccine stops transmission or was meant to stop transmission have clearly not researched public statements from the company from late 2020 and early 2021.
Doubts of irregularity hanging over communications between EU Commision President and CEO of Pfizer: In April 2021, the New York Times reported on an exchange of text messages between von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in the run-up to the EU's deal projected to secure the purchase of up to 1.8 billion doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. The EU Ombudsman, following her investigation, stated that “the handling of this access to documents request leaves the regrettable impression of an EU institution that is not forthcoming on matters of significant public interest…The recent revelations about lobbying tactics by an American multinational in Europe, including leaked text messages, shows the urgency of this issue for public administrations.”
And last but not least, Pfizer (along with most of the vaccine industry) remained silent while Western governments effectively coerced their own citizens into taking its medical products by making life miserable for people who made the “wrong” medical choices. Any business in the healthcare or medical sector with a modicum of respect for informed consent could not possibly remain silent while governments threatened citizens with job loss and social exclusion for failing to medicate with its products. If Pfizer really cared about patient well-being as much as their representative Ms Small has assured us, surely they would look with horror upon the coercive administration of their own medical products?
If all of these indisputable facts, taken together, don’t shake your faith in Big Pharma, I don’t know what will…
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