The U.S.-based Project Veritas' sting video on Pfizer's top research executive claiming the company is mutating the Covid-19 virus has exploded on social media, prompting the New York-based pharmaceutical company to come up with an explanation on the issue by denying the claims made in the hugely viral video.
In the sting operation video released by Project Veritas, one Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer’s director of research & development -- strategic operations and mRNA scientific planning, is seen saying the company is exploring ways to make sure the Covid-19 virus "keeps mutating" and that how the company can "mutate it ourselves" to "preemptively" develop new vaccines.
"BREAKING: @Pfizer Exploring "Mutating" COVID-19 Virus For New Vaccines. "Don't tell anyone this...There is a risk...have to be very controlled to make sure this virus you mutate doesn't create something...the way that the virus started in Wuhan, to be honest," alleges the viral tweet put out by Project Veritas, which was posted on social media on January 26, 2023, and has already garnered more than 43 million views, forcing Pfizer to come up with a response on the issue.
Notably, the identity of the said Pfizer executive couldn't be verified. Several mainstream media publications have also reported that Walker's identity could not be confirmed from social media or Google searches or company sources.
Allegations have recently been made related to the “gain of function and directed evolution research” at Pfizer and the company would like to set the record straight, says Pfizer. The company, which is one of the top vaccine makers in the world, said in the "ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted “gain of function or directed evolution research". In clinical research, the term “gain of function” is defined as the alteration of genotypes and their resulting phenotypes.
On the speculations of Pfizer doing research on "mutating the virus", the company clarified: "We have conducted a research where the original SARS-CoV-2 virus has been used to express the spike protein from new variants of concern. This work is undertaken once a new variant of concern has been identified by public health authorities. This research provides a way for us to rapidly assess the ability of an existing vaccine to induce antibodies that neutralise a newly identified variant of concern. We then make this data available through peer-reviewed scientific journals and use it as one of the steps to determine whether a vaccine update is required."
The explosive allegations in the video have, meanwhile, sent Pfizer stock plunging, with the shares falling 3.11% in the past week. Notably, this is the second time Pfizer has courted controversy in recent weeks. During the WEF 2023 summit in January, its CEO Albert Bourla was confronted by a journalist, who asked him a series of tough questions on the efficacy of the company's Covid vaccine. However, despite strong nudging, Bourla can be seen avoiding all questions in the viral video.
Regardless of the explosive claims in the recent video, many on social media have come out in the support of Pfizer, saying the mRNA vaccine was developed by German company BioNTech, and that Pfizer was only the manufacturing and testing partner in the US for its BNT162b2 Covid vaccine. The video also appears to be heavily edited, and it's not clear if the interviewee is talking about the gain-of-function in relation to COVID research or something else.
Notably, Project Veritas is termed a far-right activist group, which was founded by James O'Keefe in 2010. The group has often been accused of producing deceptively "edited videos" of its sting operations. In the past, too, the group has been criticised for producing "false" and "unevidenced" reports. Meanwhile, in the edited video, the interviewee can be heard saying "we are considering, for like, the future, like maybe we can like, create new versions of the vaccines and things like that". It's not confirmed who is he referring to when he says "we".
Pfizer, however, says to meet the U.S. and global regulatory requirements for its oral treatment, PAXLOVID, the company undertakes in vitro work (e.g., in a laboratory culture dish) to identify potential resistance mutations to nirmatrelvir, one of PAXLOVID’s two components. "With a naturally evolving virus, it is important to assess the activity of an antiviral routinely. Most of this work is conducted using computer simulations or mutations of the main protease – a non-infectious part of the virus."
It clarified a "limited number of cases when a full virus does not contain any known gain of function mutations, such virus may be engineered to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells". It says these studies are required by U.S. and global regulators for all antiviral products and are carried out by many companies and academic institutions in the U.S. and around the world.
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