Pfizer CEO: COVID-19 vaccine misinformation spreaders are 'criminals'

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla slammed those spreading misinformation about the vaccine for having "literally cost millions of lives."

THOUGH PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has touted his close relationship with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (on April 23), Levy was the one to sign the first contract for eight million doses. (photo credit: JOHN THYS/POOL VIA REUTERS)
THOUGH PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has touted his close relationship with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (on April 23), Levy was the one to sign the first contract for eight million doses.
(photo credit: JOHN THYS/POOL VIA REUTERS)

People spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation are "criminals" who are responsible for the deaths of millions, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday, bashing what he claims is a group of people intentionally misleading others about the vaccine, CNBC reported.

“Those people are criminals,” Bourla told Frederick Kempe, CEO of the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, according to CNBC. “They’re not bad people. They’re criminals because they have literally cost millions of lives.”

COVID-19 misinformation has become a major concern throughout the pandemic, with many theories circulating throughout the world regarding the effectiveness of vaccines, social distancing measures and of facts regarding the virus itself. These theories have the potential to be highly dangerous, as they can lead to people not complying with measures imposed to stem the continued spread of the virus and thus prolonging, if not outright worsening, the pandemic.

According to a recently published survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, COVID-19 misinformation is especially severe compared to other health issues in the past. This is because, while health care misinformation itself is nothing new, COVID-19 misinformation has the advantage of social media, media polarization and rapid scientific development to add further fuel to the fire, making spreading misinformation far easier. 

According to KFF, some 78% of all American adults have heard at least one of eight different false statements regarding COVID-19 and either think it's true or are unsure.

An illustrative photo of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)An illustrative photo of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

But what fuels this kind of misinformation? 

A number of factors are thought to converge regarding this, impacting who will believe these false facts. Overall, Republicans and unvaccinated adults are far more likely than Democrats and vaccinated adults to either believe or be unsure about certain false statements.

There is also the factor of which media sources people tend to trust, with those who watch network or local news, NPR, CNN and MSNBC tending to be less likely to believe misinformation compared to those who prefer Fox News, Newsmax and One America News.

The partisan divide is also noted due to the widespread opposition by many right-wing politicians and public figures to COVID-19 regulations, vaccines and vaccine mandates. Politicians like former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been noted for their staunch opposition to many vaccine mandates and regulations, and prominent conservative pundits and commentators like Dennis Prager and Candace Owens are outspoken about not being vaccinated.

Examples of much of the common misinformation spread about COVID-19 and the vaccines include that they contain a microchip, can alter one's DNA, can cause infertility or simply don't work. Also included are widely disputed theories that certain medications like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine are effective treatments for COVID-19.

Even though the COVID-19 vaccine has been made available in the US for most of 2021, there are still millions of eligible adults who have yet to get the jab. And according to public health experts, as noted by CNBC, misinformation is likely a significant part of the reason.