Twitter Files: How Pfizer stifled protests against its vaccines

Twitter Files: How Pfizer stifled protests against its vaccines

Posted on January 17, 2023


Mythological king of Elis, a small city located in the east of Greece, Augias is best known for his stables cleaned by Hercules during the fifth of these twelve labours.

If those of the son of Helios have become a model of the genre, the twitteresque stables hardly give us any other image, as Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk seem to have replaced Augias and Hercules for our contemporaries.

After the revelations on collusion with the American state, the blacklists and the millions of dollars paid by the FBI to the blue bird network, it is against the backdrop of the debate on anti-covid vaccines that the latest revelations arrive in the front of the scene.

Thus, the emails revealed during this great purge of information show that a senior executive of the American giant Pfizer used influence to have tweets censored which could have harmed the sale of vaccines of the company directed since 2019 by the Greek veterinarian Albert Bourla, appointed while crossing the desert due to the expiry of his main patents.

A story mixing a former FDA commissioner, a former 4-star US Army admiral, a Democratic lobbyist and a skeptical blogger.

A man of interests

To start, let’s look at the protagonist: Scott Gottlieb is a doctor with 550,000 followers on Twitter. Former commissioner of the drug regulatory authority, he regularly contributes to the CNBC channel, one of the many American equivalents of BFM Business. A prominent voice in the health debate, Gottlieb is most importantly a member of the executive committee of Pfizer’s board of directors and head of its regulatory and compliance committee, overseeing regulations and procedures applicable to the company’s sales and marketing.

These functions allow him to collect the tidy sum of 365,000 dollars annually from the firm, of which nearly half of the turnover for the year 2021 was linked to vaccines against Covid-19.

A thorn in the side

This interest no doubt prompted him to request the deletion of tweets questioning the vaccines offered by the company with the blue logo.

Two tweets in particular are highlighted by the various email exchanges.

The first, published in early September 2021, comes from a blogger, Justin Hart, 123,000 followers, mocking the death rate of the Asian virus and questioning the interest of making children lose three years of schooling in the name of a disease killing less than 1% of the population.

More surprising is the second tweet targeted, only a week earlier, since it was written by Doctor Brett Giroir, former colleague of Gottlieb, admiral and co-responsible for public health in the Trump administration. A recognized man, far from being anti-vaccine, who had the misfortune to evoke the superiority of natural immunity over vaccine immunity while encouraging fragile people to be vaccinated.

Avoid contagion

Faced with these tweets, Gottlieb would have called on the same lobbyist as that of the Democratic administration in place, Todd O’Boyle, point of contact between Joe Biden and Twitter, so that the tweet could not become – without a bad pun – viral.

He would have written:

Here, he draws a sweeping conclusion from a single retrospective study in Israel that has not been peer-reviewed. But this tweet will eventually go viral and lead to media coverage. »

Through Jira, Twitter’s internal complaints management system, O’Boyle allegedly transmitted the request, carefully failing to mention Gottlieb’s financial interests in the pharmaceutical company.

The Strategic Responsein charge of these cases, concluded that there was no violation of the rules of use, but a label “ misleading “, mentioning the misleading nature of the tweet, is added to the latter.

A security rationale

The reasons for these attacks on the two tweets have been variously justified.

That of Justin Hart threatened the direct interests of Pfizer, which was going to see its vaccine approved shortly for children aged 5 to 11 years. However, if parents began to doubt the relevance of such a vaccination, sales of this product could plummet.

This argument, not assumed by Gottlieb, is added to an explanation emanating from the main protagonist Monday, January 9. Without ever denying anything of what he is accused of, Gottlieb spoke of the climate of violence, including physical, against supporters of vaccination. His approach was safe, to prevent him and his family from being attacked one day by an opponent. In support of his remarks, he himself published emails targeting tweets threatening his person and his family.

In a tweet published shortly after, Gottlieb adds to his justification the evocation of the desire for a respectful dialogue on the subject of vaccines.

However, Brett Giroir’s tweet had nothing radical, insulting or violent but was part of a peaceful debate between competent doctors on these subjects.

Gottlieb also allegedly targeted tweets from Alex Berenson, an American journalist who won the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Prize for his spy novel. The Faithful Spy and opposed to the management of the pandemic as practiced in the West. A journalist supported for a long time by the new owner of the social network founded by Jack Dorsey and who would have been wrong to repeatedly criticize Doctor Fauci, health adviser to Donald Trump then to Joe Biden and known for his enmity towards from the first.

A veteran of controversy

Founded in 1846 in New York and initially evolving in confectionery, Pfizer is not at its first controversy. In 177 years of existence, the history of the company has been brightened by several cases. Between 1995 and 2009, the company would have paid nearly 6.171 billion dollars in fines in cases ranging from the death of Nigerian children during tests of drugs against meningitis in 1996 to the contamination of employees by a virus created in laboratory through acts of corruption with the Chinese authorities, the Cahuzac-Rocard affair or even doubts about the contracts signed with various countries and authorities, going as far as pressure on certain South American states.

The latest controversy brings us back to France and in particular to Marseille, where 300 patients who contracted illnesses after vaccination against Covid-19 by the American giant have taken the firm to court. The first hearing took place on January 9.

A business chain

Launched by Elon Musk and several journalists in early December, the Twitter Files shed light on the American public debate over the past three years, covering both the Hunter Biden affairs and the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The close relationship between the network with 544 million users and the American authorities, from the federal government to the FBI, has already opened the eyes of the most skeptical, especially when it comes to the management of the pandemic and the treatment of the last American presidential elections. .

However, it’s a safe bet that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg so far.

Article updated on 1/17/23 at 8:43 a.m.