Posts misrepresent Pfizer CEO's remarks on Covid-19 vaccine efficacy

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Social media posts and online articles claim Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said two Covid-19 shots offer "very limited" protection against the disease. This is misleading; Bourla's full remarks in a recent interview make clear he was speaking about the efficacy of two doses against the Omicron variant, not Covid-19 in general.

"After once claiming his shots are '100 effective,' Pfizer CEO now says 2 COVID shots 'offer very limited protection, if any,' protection against COVID-19," says a January 10, 2022 tweet that refers to quotes from Bourla's interview with Yahoo Finance.

Screenshot of a tweet taken on January 14, 2022

The claim -- part of a flood of inaccurate information circulating online about Covid-19 and vaccines -- was repeated in online articles here and here and on Twitter here, here and here.

The Omicron variant has caused a surge in Covid-19 cases around the world, with the World Health Organization saying half of Europe is projected to contract it, and that preliminary data points to reduced vaccine effectiveness against it.

The full interview with Yahoo Finance, posted online with a transcript, makes clear that Bourla was speaking about the limitations of two doses of the original vaccine against Omicron.

"Here the situation has been deteriorated because of the Omicron, which had a very quick ramp-up. 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 higher infectious rates, still, the hospitals, in absolute numbers, are going much higher in terms of severe disease, ICUs' occupation, et cetera, et cetera," Bourla said.

"We know that the two doses of the vaccine offer very limited protection, if any. The three doses, with the booster, they offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths -- and, again, that's, I think, very good -- and less protection against the infection," he added.

CNBC reported similar remarks from the CEO that were likewise specific to the Omicron variant.

"The two doses, they're not enough for Omicron," Bourla said, adding: "The third dose of the current vaccine is providing quite good protection against deaths, and decent protection against hospitalizations."

AFP Fact Check also debunked misleading claims about vaccine efficacy that were sparked by edited footage of an ABC News interview of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky.

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