Project Veritas, a conservative activist group known for spreading misinformation, recently published a concealed-camera videoopens in a new tab or window allegedly showing a Pfizer employee describing the company’s COVID-19 vaccine research efforts.
As described by Project Veritas, the video features “Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer Director of Research and Development – Strategic Operations and mRNA Scientific Planning,” sharing details about Pfizer’s plans for conducting gain-of-function SARS-CoV-2 research.
In the heavily edited clip, the so-called employee can be heard telling the Project Veritas reporter out of the camera frame “don’t tell anyone this, by the way” before outlining seemingly theoretical conversations being had at Pfizer.
“You know how the virus keeps mutating?” Walker asks in the video. “Well one of the things we’re exploring is, like, why don’t we just mutate it ourselves so … we could create preemptively developed new vaccines, right?”
It is currently unclear if the man in the video is actually an employee of Pfizer, and if that is his real name.
Pfizer released a statementopens in a new tab or window on Friday summarily debunking the claims made in the video, noting that the company “has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research” related to its “ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.”
The company further explained that it has “conducted research where the original SARS-CoV-2 virus has been used to express the spike protein from new variants of concern,” after these new variants have been properly identified by public health authorities, and is used to “rapidly assess the ability of an existing vaccine to induce antibodies that neutralize a newly identified variant of concern.”
Pfizer noted that this research is made public when it is published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and is used “as one of the steps to determine whether a vaccine update is required.”
In an interview with MedPage Today, Paul Offit, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, explained the primary concerns with gain-of-function research and why Pfizer’s research efforts are not attempting to produce these kinds of results.
“Usually, when people talk about gaining function, they’re talking about making it so that the virus is either more deadly or more easily transmitted or that it now can jump species,” Offit said.
He noted that this kind of research is tightly regulatedopens in a new tab or window in the U.S., and that regulations against gain-of-function research were the result of one well-documented studyopens in a new tab or window that was conducted several years ago at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the study, researchers were working with a strain of avian influenza that only reproduced in birds, which was intentionally modified to be reproducible in mammals, specifically in ferrets.
Offit emphasized that unlike the ferret study, Pfizer has been working with an mRNA platform that is coded for coronavirus spike proteins, not a whole virus. Furthermore, Pfizer is only working on one of four possible spike proteins on this particular virus, he added, noting that even if the company was working with all four proteins, it would still not be enough to accomplish gain-of-function results.
“You have a whole virus, which is then modified to become either more contagious or more deadly, but you have to start with a whole virus,” he said.
“If there was some evil hand back there that was trying to make the virus more immune-evasive or more contagious, that would be considered gain-of-function research, but it’s not happening,” he added. “The evil hand is mother nature.”
Overall, the work that has gone into developing a vaccine for COVID has been “remarkably effective,” he said. The reality was that researchers were able to sequence SARS-CoV-2 in a matter of months, conduct two large clinical trials using a technology that had never been used to make a vaccine, and achieved an effectiveness against severe disease that was much greater than expected.
The statement below is very scary.
“This is the best medical achievement in my lifetime,” he said. “And my lifetime includes the development of the polio vaccine.”