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Becca Schimmel
By Becca Schimmel December 20, 2021

No, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin didn’t refuse COVID-19 vaccine for safety reasons

If Your Time is short

  • Dr. Ugur Sahin has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • The original video in this post is from December 2020, before Sahin was eligible to be vaccinated under Germany’s priority rules. 

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech has been available for nearly a year.

And yet, a Twitter user claims, the CEO of BioNTech is still refusing to get vaccinated.

"Dr Ugur Sahin CEO of BioNTech and inventor of the BIO N TECH Pfizer jab refuses to take the jab for safety reasons." The Dec. 5 tweet says. "WAKE UP!" The post included a video of an interview in which Sahin explains why he isn’t getting vaccinated. 

The claim in the Tweet is false. Sahin was vaccinated in January 2021, within roughly a month of when Germany began vaccinations. The video, which was later disabled, is from December 2020, before Sahin was eligible to be vaccinated under Germany’s priority rules. And the video doesn’t support the claim about Sahin having safety concerns. 

The video in the Tweet has been edited from its original presentation on the German network DW News. But both the edited and original versions show Sahin’s answer when he was asked on Dec. 22, 2020, why he could not take the vaccine yet. He said:

"Because you know there is a priority. The vaccine is not allowed to be taken outside of this priority list. We were even not allowed to participate in clinical trials because of law. It is not possible to include company people in such trials." 

At the time of the interview, Germany had not begun vaccinating anyone. The country began vaccinating the elderly on Dec. 27, 2020, and like many countries that had limited supplies early on, it followed a priority list that determined who could get vaccinated first. 

The country has since removed its priority requirements, and anyone is eligible to get the vaccine. 

A spokesperson for BioNTech said Sahin has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Sahin told Britain’s The Times in September that his concerns about getting the vaccine when it first became available were related to ethics, not the safety of the vaccine, and that he ultimately decided to get the shot in January 2021. 

"I had general concerns about having the vaccine at the beginning," he said. "Was it not better ethically for me to wait until my age group’s turn to get vaccinated? But everyone told me to go ahead and do it. We had no side effects. Our vaccine’s safety profile is similar to the others. So it is a perfectly fine vaccine."

Our ruling 

A tweet claims BioNTech’s CEO refuses to get vaccinated for safety reasons. The post included an edited version of an interview with Sahin from DW News in which he explained why he had not been vaccinated. 

Sahin was vaccinated against COVID-19 in January. The video interview is from December 2020, before Germany began vaccinating people, and the video does not support the claim that Sahin refused the vaccine for safety reasons.

Sahin said in a subsequent interview that he was initially concerned about receiving the vaccine before it was his turn under Germany’s priority list for vaccination. 

We rate this claim False. 

 

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No, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin didn’t refuse COVID-19 vaccine for safety reasons

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