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- Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was speaking specifically about the omicron variant of COVID-19.
- Bourla said that two vaccine doses offer very limited protection, if any, against the omicron variant. He said that three doses offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths.
An Instagram post takes remarks by Pfizer’s CEO out of context to suggest that he described his company’s COVID-19 vaccine as largely ineffective.
"Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any," the Jan. 13 post says, attributing the quote to "Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, Jan. 10, 2022."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The remarks were taken from an interview Bourla gave to Yahoo Finance on Jan. 10. He was asked about the wave of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant of the virus.
Bourla talked about how omicron is more mild, but very infectious, posing a challenge for the vaccine. But the quote in the post leaves out important context about what he was discussing. He was referring to how well two doses of the vaccine protected specifically against infection by the omicron variant.
"We know that the two doses of the vaccine offer very limited protection, if any," he said. "The three doses, with the booster, they offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Against deaths, I think very good, and less protection against infection."
In another interview the same day on CNBC, Bourla talked about the omicron wave and the need for better vaccine protection. He said Pfizer was working on a version of the vaccine that would offer "way, way better" protection against omicron, particularly against infections. He said the new vaccine would be available in March.
"The protection against the hospitalizations and the severe diseases, it is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines, as long as you are having, let’s say, the third dose," he said.
We reached out to Pfizer but did not hear back immediately.
PolitiFact has reported on how omicron spreads quickly and is more resistant to vaccine protection, though the vaccines do protect against serious illness from the virus.
An Instagram post claims that Pfizer’s CEO said two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine offer "very little protection, if any."
The quote in the post was part of remarks Bourla made in an interview. But he was referring specifically to the vaccine’s protection against infection by the omicron variant, not about their effectiveness against COVID-19 in general. He also said that three doses protect against severe disease.
This claim contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.
Instagram post, user @jakeshields, Jan. 13, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
Yahoo Finance, video, via YouTube, "Pfizer CEO: New COVID-19 vaccine that covers Omicron ‘will be ready in March,’" Jan. 10, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
CNBC, "Pfizer CEO says omicron vaccine will be ready in March," Jan. 10, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
PolitiFact, "No, omicron does not favor the vaccinated," Jan. 7, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
Snopes, "Did Pfizer CEO Say 2-Dose Vaccine Gives Little Protection Against COVID-19?," Jan. 12, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
Reuters, "Fact Check-Pfizer CEO's comments on limited COVID-19 vaccine protection refer to the Omicron variant," Jan. 13, 2022. Accessed Jan. 14, 2022.
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