Does Video Show CEO of BioNTech Refusing To Take COVID-19 Vaccine?

This is what happens when conspiracy theorists play madlibs.

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Claim

A video shows BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Rating

Miscaptioned
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Context

This video was taken in December 2020, before Sahin was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Sahin was later vaccinated against COVID-19.

Origin

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In April 2021, a video showing Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla saying that he had not received a COVID-19 vaccine was widely circulated among anti-vaxxers on social media who claimed that Bourla was refusing to take the jab despite insisting that others get it. While the video was real, it was several months old by the time it went viral. It showed Bourla in December 2020 saying that he hadn’t received the vaccine because he wasn’t eligible yet, not because he believed it was unsafe. Bourla reported receiving doses of the vaccine in February and March 2021.

In December 2021, a carbon copy of this rumor was circulated on social media, only this time it featured Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, instead of Bourla. 

While this video is real, it was nearly a year old when it circulated in December 2021.  Again, it shows Sahin, like Bourla, saying that he hasn’t taken the vaccine because he was not eligible at the time, not because of any safety concerns. And again, Sahin, like Bourla, received the COVID-19 vaccine in the months after this video was taken. 

The above-displayed video comes from a December 2020 interview with the German news outlet DW. At the time, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was just starting in Germany and only a few select groups, such as the elderly, were eligible for the vaccination. As Sahin was not qualified for the COVID-19 vaccination at the time, he told DW that he was not “legally eligible” for the vaccine:

In the months after this video was taken, Sahin received both his COVID-19 vaccination and his booster shot. Sahin received his COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021. Sahin told the UK’s The Times that he and his wife both got shots in part to encourage all of their employees to also receive the vaccine:

“We got our shots at the end of January this year … It was part of our campaign to immunise all our employees, to ensure that we did not have infections that would slow the pace of our work.”

A spokesperson for BioNTech told Reuters that Sahin subsequently received a booster shot. 

Sources

“Fact Check-BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin Has Been Vaccinated against COVID-19.” Reuters, 6 Dec. 2021. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-biontech-ceo-vaccinated-idUSL1N2SR1W7.

Naish, John. “We Developed the Pfizer Vaccine, but We’re Still Worried about Covid.” The Times UK, September 14, 2021, https://archive.md/J0v93. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

Satıl, Ceren. BioNTech CEO’su Uğur Şahin’in COVID-19 Aşısı Olmadığı İddiası. https://www.dogrulukpayi.com/dogrulama/biontech-ceo-su-ugur-sahin-in-covid-19-asisi-olmadigi-iddiasi. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.