The claim: Pfizer admitted its employees received a ‘special batch’ of the COVID-19 vaccine
An Oct. 28 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) includes a screenshot of an article about a major vaccine manufacturer.
“Pfizer Admits Employees Were Given ‘Special Batch’ of Vaccine, Different to Rest of Population,” reads the headline.
The post received more than 1,800 likes in five days. Another version of the claim was shared more than 3,000 times on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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Our rating: False
Pfizer ordered a batch of vaccines for its Australian employees to avoid draining the government’s supply, but Australia’s health department said the shots were the same as those designated for the general public. The claim originated on a website known for publishing misinformation.
Employee vaccines were ‘not different, separate or safer,’ health department says
The screenshot in the post is from an Aug. 5 story from The People’s Voice, a known purveyor of misinformation that says it makes “no representations about the suitability, reliability, availability, timeliness and accuracy” of the content on its website.
The article claims a Pfizer representative made the supposed admission that the company’s employees “did not receive the normal vaccine” during a Senate hearing in Australia.
But no such admission was made in the referenced Aug. 3 hearing.
Instead, Australian Sen. Malcolm Roberts asked Pfizer officials to confirm whether or not the company’s vaccine mandate “was using your own batch of vaccine, especially imported for Pfizer, which was not tested by the TGA.”
He was referencing the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the country’s regulatory agency for products, including vaccines and medicine.
Dr. Brian Hewitt, Pfizer Australia’s head of regulatory sciences, responded by saying the company “undertook to import a batch of vaccines specifically for the employee vaccination program, and that was so that no vaccine would be taken from government stocks that were being delivered to clinics as needed.”
The company echoed Hewitt’s comments in an email to USA TODAY.
“When Comirnaty (the brand name for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine) became widely available in Australia, we wanted to offer Pfizer employees protection, but did not want to decrease the amount of vaccine available for the Australian public,” Roma Nair, Pfizer’s director of global media relations, said. “As a result, we imported additional doses and made the vaccine available for staff. Pfizer employees received the vaccine at the same time as the general Australian population.”
Though they were ordered specifically for Pfizer employee use, the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care said there was no material difference between the doses, contrary to the social media claims.
“The batches used for the Pfizer employee vaccination program were not different, separate or safer,” said Anthony Lawler, deputy secretary for the department’s Health Products Regulation Group.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration reviewed all seven batches used in the program, Lawler said.
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USA TODAY has previously debunked an array of false claims from The People’s Voice, including that Bill Gates funded an “air vaccine” that can be given without people’s approval, that Bill Clinton and Pope Francis called for “human depopulation” to save the planet, and that the World Health Organization declared “mass vaccination” is required to combat climate change.
USA TODAY reached out to several users who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Lead Stories also debunked the claim.
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