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Home About Responsibility Misinformation

On October 30, 1938, CBS Radio aired a series of reports describing a Martian invasion. It turned out to be a dramatization by Orson Welles of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction novel “War of the Worlds.” And the day after the broadcast, legitimate news outlets across the United States reported that real mass hysteria was caused by the broadcast. The problem is, according to modern accounts, it isn’t true and it never was. That is how powerful and potentially dangerous misinformation can be. After 85 years, the myth of a panic that never was persists, even with ample access to the truth.1

So when misinformation about healthcare enters the public discourse, the result can be more than bizarre. It can be dangerous, causing confusion and instilling mistrust that could keep people from getting much-needed help.

“Health misinformation is not a recent phenomenon,” according to an advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General. “In the late 1990s, a poorly designed study, later retracted, falsely claimed that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. Even after the retraction, the claim gained some traction and contributed to lower immunization rates over the next twenty years.”2

people gathering

“Just a few days after the widespread coronavirus outbreak, unfounded rumors circulated on social media that drinking or gargling alcohol could prevent or cure COVID-19. Subsequently, hospitals encountered a spike in the referral of poisoning cases for the ingestion of industrial-grade ethanol, resulting in an unprecedented high death toll due to alcohol poisoning. As of April 20, 2020, at the time of writing this letter, 700 people have died as a result of ingesting denatured alcohol in an attempt to fight the novel coronavirus. This catastrophe has affected many cities throughout Iran and at least 3,100 people have been hospitalized.”3

From the earliest days of the pandemic, the world has been inundated with misinformation. The World Health Organization calls this phenomenon an “infodemic,” “a flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Infodemiology is the study of that information and how to manage it.”4

What began with unhelpful, unhealthy, and sometimes fatal advice about how to prevent COVID-19 evolved into false information about scientifically developed COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that have been created in accordance with regulatory processes, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Most misinformation and disinformation that has circulated about COVID-19 vaccines has focused on vaccine development, safety, and effectiveness, as well as COVID-19 denialism.”5

Scientific knowledge saves lives. It is how we fight disease and help patients. It is how we encourage our loved ones and neighbours to take the best care of themselves and their health, and promote public health broadly.

Pfizer, as an established brand, is committed to being a source for credible and objective information about medical advancements and trailblazing science. We use our scientific resources and world-class experts to educate and inspire; to provide facts, news, and content that will inform and empower readers, and maybe even make the world a healthier place.

No, Pfizer is not purposely mutating the COVID-19 virus.

In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research. Working with collaborators, we have conducted research where the original SARS-CoV-2 virus has been used to express the spike protein from new variants of concern. This work is undertaken once a new variant of concern has been identified by public health authorities. This research provides a way for us to rapidly assess the ability of an existing vaccine to induce antibodies that neutralize a newly identified variant of concern. We then make this data available through peer reviewed scientific journals and use it as one of the steps to determine whether a vaccine update is required. Read more: Pfizer Responds to Research Claims

No, the Zantac litigation did not apply to Pfizer Products.

Pfizer sold Zantac only between 1998 and 2006, and the withdrawal of Zantac products from the market in 2019 and 2020 did not involve any Pfizer products. Read more: Pfizer Statement on Zantac Litigation

  • The primary difference lies in the intent of the person sharing the information. The CDC defines misinformation as “false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others” and disinformation as “false information deliberately created and disseminated with malicious intent.”5

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends taking seven steps to know whether you can trust what you’re reading.6

    • Assess the source
    • Go beyond headlines
    • Identify the author
    • Check the date
    • Examine the supporting evidence
    • Check your biases
    • Turn to fact-checkers
  • Pfizer has been a publicly traded company since June 22, 1942, when 240,000 shares of new common stock were offered to the public. Read more about Pfizer’s History, Board Members, Executive Leadership, and Investor Relations.

  • No. Albert Bourla remains the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer.

    • At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2022, Albert Bourla said, “I think that is really fulfilling of a dream that we had, together with our leadership team when we started in '19, the first week we met in January of '19 in California to set up the goals for the next five years. And one of them was by 2023, we will reduce the number of people in the world that cannot afford our medicines by 50%.”
    • Watch the full video
  • Side effects may vary depending on the individual and which vaccine is administered. Be sure to consult a healthcare provider to make decisions that are right for your medical history. More detailed information is available on the CDC’s Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine page. Please visit our Coronavirus Resources page for more information about Pfizer’s work on COVID-19.

  • Messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, is a molecule that contains instructions that directs cells to make a protein that can help fight viruses. Learn more about 6 vaccine technologies and mRNA technology itself.

  • No, mRNA vaccines do not alter your DNA. In fact, they don’t interact directly with your DNA at all.7

  • On April 18, 2023, the FDA expanded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for bivalent COVID-19 vaccines. This expansion allowed individuals 5 years and older to receive the bivalent vaccines can now as an initial single-dose vaccinations for those who have not yet been vaccinated. It also authorized, the bivalent vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age to receive up to 3 doses depending on the child’s COVID-19 vaccine vaccination history. Lastly, the expansion authorized additional dose(s) for individuals 5 years and older with certain immunocompromised conditions. Because of these changes, the original monovalent COVID-19 vaccines were no longer necessary, and therefore no longer authorized by the FDA.8

  • Several vaccines require several shots to help provide immunity against viruses, including the annual flu shot and Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis. For COVID-19, an additional shot is a way to remind your body of the instructions it received from your original vaccination series, and a way to provide new instructions for new variants of the virus.9

  • Pfizer has LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.