Fact Check: BioNTech CEO Did NOT Refuse To 'Take The Jab'

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: BioNTech CEO Did NOT Refuse To 'Take The Jab' Outdated Video

Did the CEO of BioNTech, Dr. Ugur Sahin, refuse to "take the jab"? No, that's not true: The post where this claim was made features an outdated video and makes up a safety concern Sahin did not express in public statements nor even in the video used for this post. Sahin was not yet eligible to receive the vaccine when this video was recorded and said he did not want to abuse his position to jump the line ahead of higher-priority elderly patients and front-line workers. He has been vaccinated since January 2021.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) on December 5, 2021. Above an interview clip featuring Sahin, the caption reads:

Dr Ugur Sahin CEO of BioNTech and inventor of the BIO N TECH Pfizer jab refuses to take the jab for safety reasons

WAKE UP!

This is what the post looked like on Twitter on December 10, 2021:

Ughar Sahin no Vaccination Image.png

The video clip in the post came from a December 22, 2020, Deutsche Welle (DW) interview on YouTube. In the DW article that goes with the video, titled, "BioNTech CEO: 'The science we did was important," Sahin says:

We are legally not allowed to take the vaccine. ... You know, there is a priority. The vaccine is not allowed to be taken outside that priority list.

When Germany's initial vaccine rollout began on December 27, 2020, the priority group to receive the vaccinations was defined as health care workers, nursing home residents and staff and the elderly, CNBC reported.

Sahin said in a September 14, 2021, interview that he and his wife, Özlem Türeci, BioNTech's chief medical officer, got their shots at the end of January. "I had general concerns about having the vaccine at the beginning," he said. "Was it not better ethically for me to wait until my age group's turn to get vaccinated? But everyone told me to go ahead and do it. We had no side effects. Our vaccine's safety profile is similar to the others. So it is a perfectly fine vaccine."

Jasmina Alatovic, senior director of corporate communications at BioNTech, told Lead Stories in a December 13, 2021, email:

The statement from him was recorded in Dec 2020 when the roll out of the vaccination campaign had just begun and only elderly and ill people were allowed to get the jab.

She also cited this LinkedIn post published by Sahin himself on December 10, 2021, which features a photo of him receiving the vaccination. The post, in part, read:

There has been misinformation on social media that I am supposedly not vaccinated. In fact, my wife and I have both received 3 doses of the #BioNTech #Pfizer vaccine. For several months now, friends have been urging me to post a photo of me being vaccinated to address these false rumors.

Until now, I had refused to do so, as I believe that my communication should not be about me. I believe that my communication should contribute to scientific transparency and provide data, facts and insights.

sahin vaccination.jpg

Updates:

  • 2021-12-13T22:31:38Z 2021-12-13T22:31:38Z
    Adds photo of and new quotes by Dr. Ugur Sahin.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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