The CEO of US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Albert Bourla gestures during a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on May 25, 2022. ( AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Edited video misrepresents Pfizer CEO's comments at World Economic Forum

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A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts that claim it shows Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla saying the US pharmaceutical giant aims to cut the world's population in half by 2023. However, the video has been edited. In the original clip, Bourla told Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), that Pfizer plans to cut the number of people who cannot afford their medicine by half.

The video shows Bourla speaking at the WEF's annual meeting in the Swiss resort town of Davos on May 25.

It has been viewed more than 2,800 times since being published on Instagram here on May 29, 2022.

In the clip, Bourla appears to tell Schwab: "The first week [my leadership team] met, in January of '19 in California, to set up the goals for the next five years, one of them was by 2023, we will reduce the number of people in the world by 50 percent.

"I think today the dream is becoming reality."

Warning

A screenshot of the misleading Instagram post as of May 30, 2022


The post's caption reads: "But don't worry, it's just a conspiracy theory."

The clip was also shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here.

It was also viewed more than 236,000 times in a similar post on Twitter here before it was removed for violating the site's rules.

Edited video

A closer analysis of the full conversation between Bourla and Schwab, which was published here on the WEF's official YouTube channel on May 25, found Bourla's comments had been edited in the video circulating online.

Below is a screenshot of the video in the misleading posts (left) and the original video published by the WEF on YouTube (right):

A comparison between the misleading post (left) and a screenshot of the video from WEF's YouTube channel (right)

At the YouTube video's two-minute 51-second mark, Bourla makes a different comment from what is heard in the edited video.

In the original video, he can be heard saying: "We will reduce the number of people in the world who cannot afford our medicines by 50 percent."

The video was also published in full on the WEF's website.

In the original video, Bourla was referring to Pfizer's plans to sell its patented drugs on a not-for-profit basis to the world's poorest countries.

AFP reported on the plans here.

Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are among the first countries to benefit from the initiative.

At the three-minute 29-second mark in the original video, Bourla says: "We exclude all the research money that took to invent the medicines, all the legal [costs] it took to make the contracts, or all the administrative costs, everything that is sometimes added...will not be added in that case. It's going to be strict to the cost to make and ship."

Pfizer and its CEO have been frequent targets of misinformation since the start of the pandemic.

AFP previously debunked claims about Bourla's vaccination status and the safety of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine here and here.

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