Israel’s Channel 12 reporter Yonit Levy threw softball questions to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in an interview Sunday during the pharma executive’s visit to Israel. Levy avoided asking any controversial questions, occasionally stammering in apparent awe of the Pfizer CEO, whom Levy called the “Father” of the vaccine and a “walking miracle”.
The vaccine has become a divisive center of controversy as scientists who question it are hunted, threatened and even barred from research. Data on the Pfizer vaccine and boosters have been murky at best, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitting to withholding crucial data on the first booster’s effects. The CDC further admitted its failure to monitor the vaccine’s safety as it had promised to do. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci recently admitted that there are no data supporting the vaccine’s effects on deaths and hospitalizations among children.
On top of that, nearly 400,000 adverse events have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) for the Pfizer vaccine alone. Cardiac events have increased 25% in connection with the vaccine, and even mainstream media are reporting young, healthy people dying at an alarming, inexplicable rate.
But none of that was discussed in the interview.
Instead, Levy began the interview by asking how long it will be until she can get the newest Pfizer vaccine.
“You announced positive data regarding the Omicron-adapted vaccine. How long until I can walk into a clinic – or in Israel, an HMO – and get this Omicron-adapted vaccine for COVID-19?”
Bourla said Pfizer is waiting for the go ahead from the FDA, which he expects this week. The pharma giant has already begun manufacturing the doses, he shared, so they will be ready immediately upon FDA approval.
Levy then asked the pharma CEO if seven months is the standard go-to-market time for each variant, to which Bourla replied that he hopes to get it down to less than three months for future variants.
She also asked Bourla if he would give the Omicron vaccine – not yet approved in Israel for 6 month-4-year-old children – to his toddler if he had one. Bourla responded that he would adding that parents should consult with their pediatricians and “make their own decisions.”
“I think it’s safe to say the vaccines were a game-changer in the battle against COVID,” said Levy breathlessly. “If you would have a way to improve them magically, would the fact that they wane quite quickly be something that they fixate upon? The efficacy wanes in four or six months?”
“You’re right,” admitted Bourla. “But we are working on a vaccine that could last at least one year. I think from a public health perspective that would be ideal. Because when you do it annually, it’s easy to remember and easy for people to accept.”
At one point, Levy asked Bourla if he had ever had COVID. The Pfizer CEO said he had not, having been vaccinated four times, but his wife did.
“You’re quite a walking miracle,” Levy gushed.
The two also discussed Pfizer’s choice to experiment with the vaccine on the Israeli population.
“When we have the perspective of how Pfizer – why Pfizer chose Israel, is it safe to say that it got a good offer from the Israelis and also aggregate data that helped it very much in the rest of the development? Would that be an accurate assessment?” Levy asked.
“It is because we were looking for a country that we can feel confident that they can execute very well a vaccination campaign,” Bourla responded. “So if we were giving them ample quantities they could show to the world what vaccinations can do.”
Then, Levy began attacking “anti-vaxxers” and, without touching on any of their claims, asked the pharma executive if he had expected any pushback.
“You know when you look at the issue of the anti-vaxxers – and you see it in this country too, they’re very loud, they threatened certain officials in the Ministry of Health, they reached you and they had stories about you. This is something – did you expect this? I mean did you expect that we would live in this world where it wasn’t clear that science and data are truth and the rest is just, you know, fake news?”
“No, I didn’t expect it to that degree. Most of the people that are not taking the vaccines are good people. They care about themselves, their families, and they’re afraid for one reason or another,” replied Bourla, seemingly unaware of the irony that those who get vaccinated become more afraid of COVID-19 with each shot. “But there is this small group that is intentionally circulat[ing] fake information and targeting exactly those people. And this small group of people that do that, really, they have blood on their hands. They shouldn’t.”
Levy then asked Bourla how he was so selfless in making the vaccine and how it was “bold” for him to refuse a grant, for which he won the $1 million Genesis Prize in January 2022.
“You are the Genesis Prize Laureate for 2022. One of the reasons that they stated in giving you the prize is that you took many risks on yourself and also refused a federal grant to develop these vaccines. When you look back at that decision, that’s a pretty bold decision to make, wasn’t it?” asked Levy.
“It was,” Bourla concurred. “But also, the times were asking for bold decisiveness.”
“When will this be – I mean, I know this is maybe a silly question – when will this be over? When will we stop dealing with COVID?” Levy asked the COVID vaccine maker.
“I think that the virus will be with us for many years, as I’ve said,” said Bourla. “But we can get our lives back, the lives that we had before COVID. And I think already we start seeing that. What we are having now...is just the concern that that may change back.
“I think that with the powerful tools that we have in our hands it will not change back. I am optimistic.”
“Albert Bourla thank you so much for everything that you did and thank you for this conversation,” said Levy with a bow of her head.