Conspiracy theorists misinterpret new Pfizer documents

Conspiracy theorists misinterpret data on Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine again after a new set of documents from the pharmaceutical giant were released this week.

The filings, obtained by the nonprofit Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency Group as part of their FOIA lawsuit against the FDA, detail the research Pfizer conducted to get its vaccine approved for emergency use approval.

After news of the documents began to spread across the internet, conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccinationists began posting sensational claims, which have gathered around the viral hashtag #pfizerdocuments.

The issue appeared to get a major boost Tuesday from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the QAnon-supporting congresswoman known for her conspiratorial remarks.

Although Greene’s personal Twitter account was permanently suspended earlier this year for repeated violations of the platform’s rules against spreading COVID-19 misinformation, the politician used her official work account to point out that “during Pfizer’s report of unwanted events died after approval”.

However, the document presented by Greene is not even part of the new data cache and is from an earlier version created last year. As AFP noted at the time, the 1,223 deaths were among the 158,893 reports of side effects generated by public health officials around the world. The cause of death has not been verified and has been linked to a number of patients including those with serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

In fact, an FDA spokesman later told Reuters that investigations by both the FDA and the CDC found that “the vast majority of reported deaths are not directly related to the vaccines.”

The same document goes on to say that the data “does not reveal any novel safety concerns or risks that require a label change.” And with billions of doses administered worldwide, side effects still remain extremely rare.

Another document apparently said that it was not known whether breast milk from vaccinated mothers would pose a risk to newborns.

“Covid vaccine is NOT recommended during pregnancy and strongly discouraged while breastfeeding,” one user tweeted. “Straight from Pfizer. the more you know #pfizerdocuments.”

The passage was seen by many as evidence that the vaccine was being forced on expectant mothers, despite the potential danger. but studies were conducted before the vaccine was officially recommended by the FDA for pregnant women, showing that mRNA vaccines pose no apparent safety concerns.

Studies have since shown that pregnant women and those who have been vaccinated are much less likely to experience side effects from the virus, including those that could harm the foetus.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, a Pfizer spokesman reiterated that the company’s vaccine for pregnant women has been recommended by both national and international health authorities.

“Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective for pregnant women, and regulatory agencies and global health organizations around the world, such as the CDC and WHO, are recommending its use,” the spokesman said.

Another popular claim claims that the new documents prove the vaccine is only 12% effective in protecting against COVID-19, not the 95% commonly reported.

However, none of those making the claim are linked to actual documentation. The allegation, as reported by biomedical data scientist Jeffrey Morris, appears to have come from a Substack user named Sonia Elijah.

“More disgusting @pfizer leaked data proves that they and the @US_FDA misled the world by claiming the vaccines are 95% effective in obtaining EUA to be injected into millions of human lab rats, while their own experimental data show it was only 12%. effective,” wrote one Twitter user.

Again, the claim is not linked to the most recent publication, but to documents released in late 2020. And although Twitter users portrayed the alleged find as new, the Substack article itself was written last month.

The article incorrectly labeled those who had symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath as COVID-positive. In reality, the group were initially “suspected” of having COVID based on the symptoms, but later ran PCR tests that proved they were in fact negative.

“So those 3,410 ‘suspicious but unconfirmed’ cases were people who [had] any symptom mentioned in the list, which of course could have many causes, not just COVID-19 infections for which they underwent a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test and tested negative,” Morris wrote in his rebuttal . “Since the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was obviously not intended to prevent all cough, fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, shortness of breath, vomiting, etc. from any cause, it would be ridiculous to include all reports of such common symptoms as.” COVID-19 cases for the purpose of calculating vaccine efficacy.”

Although many of the claims circulating in the #pfizerdocuments trend have already been debunked, conspiracy theorists continue to see the debunked arguments as evidence of Pfizer’s sinister behavior.

Many far-right figures, such as the duo known as Diamond and Silk, have gone viral for accusing the pharmaceutical company of “crimes against humanity”.

While there are countless legitimate criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry, conspiracy theorists instead focus on developing fantastical claims based on their own inability to properly analyze and verify public data.

Read more about the Daily Dot’s technical and political coverage

*Initial publication: May 5, 2022 at 4:12 pm CDT

Michael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a Seattle-based tech and security reporter covering social media, data breaches, hackers and more.

Michael Thalen Conspiracy theorists misinterpret new Pfizer documents

Jaclyn Diaz

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