Big Vaccine Makers ‘Pressured’ Twitter to Censor Activists Pushing for Generic Vaccines: Twitter Files

Big Pharma companies, which reaped billions of dollars in COVID vaccine sales, allegedly pressured Twitter to censor activists who pushed for the sharing of knowledge needed to make generic vaccines, according to the latest addition to the “Twitter Files.”

In 2020, there was an “international push” to force the drug industry to make its COVID vaccine recipes publicly accessible so that low-income countries could make generic, low-cost vaccines on their own, independent journalist Lee Fang explained in a Twitter thread.

Seeing the pandemic as “an opportunity for unprecedented profit,” however, vaccine-making giants responded to the call with a “massive lobbying blitz” to crush any effort to share intellectual properties related to COVID therapeutics and vaccines, he said.

BioNTech, which developed Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, directly pressured Twitter to censor accounts asking for generic, low-cost vaccines, Fang wrote, citing internal email exchanges that were released to him by Elon Musk, Twitter’s new billionaire owner.

In one email dated Dec. 12, 2020, Twitter lobbyist Nina Morschhaeuser told the platform’s moderation team that BioNTech, along with the German federal government, had alerted her about an upcoming online campaign “targeting the pharmaceutical companies developing the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“The authorities are warning about ‘serious consequences’ of the action, i.e. posts and a flood of comments ‘that may violate TOS’ as well as the ‘takeover of user accounts’ are to be expected,” wrote Morschhaeuser, who is in Europe. “Especially the personal accounts of the management of the vaccine manufacturers are said to be targeted. Accordingly, fake accounts could also be set up.”

Morschhaeuser also forwarded an email from a BioNTech representative, who apparently asked Twitter to “hide” activist posts calling for “fair COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”

“As part of the online campaigns, for example, there are calls to contact BioNTech and our managing directors via social media,” wrote BioNTech’s Jasmina Alatovic in the German-language email. “Could you help us to ‘hide’ our biotech Twitter account for two days on Sunday so that comments, etc. are no longer possible?”

In her email to Twitter, Morschhaeuser specifically named the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, which she said Twitter should “have an eye on” amid the activist campaign.

She also asked Twitter to monitor the hashtags #PeoplesVaccine and #JoinCTAP, which apparently refer to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a left-wing activist group demanding “equitable” access to vaccines for less-developed countries; and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), an initiative aimed to accelerate the development of COVID vaccines through voluntary and transparent sharing of ideas, data, and technologies.

“It’s not clear what actions Twitter ultimately took on this particular request,” Fang said. “Several Twitter employees noted in subsequent messages that none of this activism constituted abuse. But the company continued monitoring tweets.”

In an article detailing the new Twitter Files, published in the online magazine The Intercept, Fang wrote, “Ultimately, the campaign to share COVID vaccine recipes around the world failed.”

As of 2023, while Pfizer and Moderna are considering charging as high as $130 per dose for their branded two-dose COVID vaccines, the campaign for generic vaccines remains an obscure topic. The People’s Vaccine Alliance and activist movements alike received little mainstream media coverage in the United States, while updates to the C-TAP were mostly reported by a handful of outlets dedicated to foreign policy or intellectual property news.

The Epoch Times has reached out to BioNTech for comments and will update this report accordingly.

From The Epoch Times

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