Fact Check: Pfizer CEO Did NOT Say Two Doses Of Vaccine Offer Very Little Protection Against COVID-19

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Pfizer CEO Did NOT Say Two Doses Of Vaccine Offer Very Little Protection Against COVID-19 Re: Omicron

Did the CEO of Pfizer say that two doses of the vaccine offer very little protection against COVID-19? No, that's not true: He was speaking specifically about the omicron variant, not about other variants of the coronavirus. Clipping the quote in this way robs it of context that makes clear what he meant.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post on January 13, 2022. The post included a photo of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and a quote that reads:

Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection if any.

Users saw this on social media at the time of writing:

The post included a date, January 10, 2022, and -- in fact -- Bourla's quote was taken from an interview he did on that date with Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani. But the standalone quote is misleading because it lacks the rest of what he said about a somewhat complicated concept: each variant of the virus has different characteristics and different responses to the vaccines. From Bourla's full interview, it's clear he was referring to the omicron variant.

You can listen to his full interview here, and watch the relevant part, which starts just after the 1-minute mark, below:

Bourla said (emphasis ours):

Clearly the situation has been deteriorating because of the omicron [variant] ... It is a disease that manifests a little bit less in terms of mildness. I mean, it's more mild, but you know, because of the high infectious rates, still the hospitalizations and absolute numbers are going much higher in terms of severe disease, ICUs occupation, etc, etc. And we know that the two doses of the vaccine offer very limited protection, if any. The three doses, with a booster, they offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Against deaths, I think [the three doses are] very good, and [they offer] less protection against the infection. Now, we are working on a new version for our vaccine ... that will cover omicron as well. And, of course, we are waiting to have the final results, [but] the vaccine will be ready in March.

Again, it's clear from his full quote that Bourla was speaking specifically about omicron.

For more information on variants, including omicron, see the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recognizes that new variants will emerge and continues to recommend that people get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible, since vaccination reduces the risk of hospitalization and death.

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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.

  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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