Until 2011, Michael Yeadon worked as the vice president and chief scientist in a drug discovery research unit at Pfizer. The division he headed focused on allergy and respiratory medical research — not vaccines or infectious disease. At the time of the unit's closure, research focused on developing compounds that targeted asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Yeadon's title was not "Vice President and Chief Science Officer of Pfizer" as a video that went viral in April 2021 claimed, and many of the claims he made were unfounded and lacked scientific or empirical evidence.
In late April 2021, an hour-long video interview with Michael Yeadon, described as the former “Vice President and Chief Science Officer of Pfizer,” went viral after the former scientist claimed global, government-led vaccine rollouts were a ploy to initiate a “mass depopulation” event. Specifically, Yeadon claimed that recipients of the “top-up” (presumably booster shots) will die within two years.
Many of the claims Yeadon made in the video are unfounded and lack scientific or empirical evidence, but because he did say that the COVID-19 vaccine will kill recipients within two years, we rate this claim as a “Correct Attribution.”
Through much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yeadon has peddled conspiracy theories surrounding vaccines, previously writing that “there is absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic” and arguing that it’s possible women who receive the vaccine could become infertile. Fringe website and individuals who contest the safety and efficacy of available vaccines in one form or another inaccurately report Yeadon’s former title as “vice president and chief science officer for Pfizer,” one of three pharmaceutic companies whose COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in the U.S. under emergency use authorizations. But this title is inaccurate. As Snopes has previously reported, Yeadon worked in a drug discovery research unit at Pfizer that worked on allergy and respiratory medical research. The division he ran had nothing to do with vaccines or infectious disease and, at the time of its closure in 2011, was focused on developing compounds that targeted asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Yeadon’s views on the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and vaccines have elevated his position on some corners of the internet, despite a scientific rationale for those claims proven to be unambiguously incorrect.
Those false claims made waves on the internet again in April 2021 when a video of an interview with Yeadon was shared to the Canadian-based video upload and streaming service Rumble on April 27 by a page entitled Access_Reality_Truth. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential election, Media Bias Fact Check reported that many right-wing pundits joined the platform, which led to its current growth by right-biased and pro-Trump supporters. The interview gained further traction after it was covered by Life Site, a conservative bias website flagged by Media Bias Factcheck for pushing conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and failed fact checks.
In the video, which has been archived here, Yeadon made numerous erroneous claims aimed at inciting fear and telling viewers that they should be “terrified” of COVID-19 vaccines.
“I believe they’re going to be used to damage your health and possibly kill you. Seriously. I can see no sensible interpretation other than a serious attempt at mass depopulation,” said Yeadon just after the 36-minute mark. “This will provide the tools to do it and plausible deniability because they’ll create another story about some sort of biological threat and you’ll line up and get your top-up vaccines and, in a few months, or a year or so later you’ll die of some, you know, peculiar explicable syndrome and they won’t be able to associate it with the top up vaccines.”
Yeadon went on to tell viewers that “everything your government has told you about this virus, everything you need to do to stay safe, is a lie” and added that lockdown and other preventative measures were aimed at "totalitarian control.” Similar language was again used at the 46-minute mark.
“This system is being put in place using lies, and it’s been put in place for some purpose, and I believe that purpose is complete totalitarian control and I think the purpose of that is going to be mass depopulation,” said Yeadon. “I can’t think of a single benign interpretation for the simple creation of these top-up vaccines, let alone the lies that surround them, absolutely terrified that the combination of vaccine passports and top-up vaccines is going to lead to mass depopulation. Deliberate execution potentially of billions of people."
In May 2021, executives at Pfizer and BioNTech stated that individuals will likely need a third dose within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, with high-risk groups expected to be the first in line. At the time of the original publication of this story, regulations surrounding booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines were not formally established.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel initially rejected the use of widespread booster shots after some members said that Pfizer did not provide enough data on the safety of extra doses. However, the agency walked back on its decision less than a week later, amending an emergency use authorization to allow for a third dose to certain at-risk individuals.
However, on Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed COVID booster shots for millions of older Americans. The agency signed off on recommending booster shots to people 65 and older, residents in long-term care facilities, and those between 50 and 64 who have underlying health issues to get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine six months after receiving their full regime. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of their mRNA COVID vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Additionally, people can get a booster if they are between 18 and 64 and are healthcare workers or have a job that increases their risk of exposure.
At the time of the original publication of this story, regulations surrounding booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines had not been formally established. While the vaccine has caused some adverse reactions, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, health experts argue that such reactions are rare and vaccines are generally safe.
Sources“CDC Endorses COVID Booster for Millions of Older Americans.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/09/24/cdc-endorses-covid-booster-for-millions-of-older-americans/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.Commissioner, Office of the. “FDA Authorizes Booster Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Certain Populations.” FDA, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-booster-dose-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-certain-populations.COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Professionals | CDC. 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/faq.html.22 Sept. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/faq.html.“Did CDC Recommend Temporary Pause in US J&J Vaccine Distribution?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cdc-halts-us-jj-covid-shots/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“Did ‘Head of Pfizer Research’ Say COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Is Female Sterilization’?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/covid-vaccine-female-sterilization/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“Did Pfizer’s Former ‘Chief Scientist’ Say There Was ‘No Need for Vaccines’?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/pfizer-chief-scientist-vaccines/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“FDA Adds Warning About Rare Reaction to J&J COVID-19 Vaccine.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/07/12/fda-adds-warning-about-rare-reaction-to-jj-covid-19-vaccine/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“FDA Advisory Panel Rejects Widespread Pfizer Booster Shots.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/09/17/fda-advisory-panel-rejects-widespread-pfizer-booster-shots/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.Jr, Berkeley Lovelace. “Pfizer Scientist Expects Elderly, People with Underlying Conditions to Be First to Get Covid Vaccine Booster Shots.” CNBC, 4 May 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/04/covid-booster-shot-pfizer-expects-older-adults-those-with-underlying-conditions-to-be-first-in-line.html.“LifeSiteNews.” Media Bias/Fact Check, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/life-site-news/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“New COVID-19 Vaccine Warnings Don’t Mean It’s Unsafe.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/news/2021/07/19/new-covid-19-vaccine-warnings-dont-mean-its-unsafe/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.“Rumble.” Media Bias/Fact Check, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/rumble/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.