FACT CHECK: Does BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin Refuse To Take The COVID-19 Vaccine?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin refuses to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine due to his concerns about its safety.

Verdict: False

The video shows Sahin discussing the vaccine in December 2020 before it became publicly available in Germany. At no point in the interview does he state he is concerned about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. He has since been vaccinated, according to a BioNTech spokesperson.

Fact Check:

Social media users have been sharing a video of Sahin, CEO of the company that jointly developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, saying that he is “legally not allowed to take the vaccine.”

“Dr Ugur Sahin CEO of BioNTech and inventor of the BIO N TECH Pfizer jab refuses to take the jab for safety reasons,” reads text included in the video.

The claim made in the video’s text, however, is inaccurate. While Sahin does say in the video that he cannot take the vaccine for legal reasons, at no point does he say he is concerned about the vaccine’s safety. (RELATED: Does This Photo Show COVID-19 Vaccine Developer Ugur Sahin As A Child?)

The video itself is pulled from an interview Sahin did with DW News, an English-language German news outlet, on Dec. 22, 2020. At one point, the reporter asks Sahin why he has not yet taken the COVID-19 vaccine to which Sahin responds by saying, “So I am legally not allowed to take the vaccine at the moment.” At the time of the interview, Germany had not yet begun handing out its vaccines. which became available to the public in Germany five days later on Dec. 27, 2020, according to CNBC.

Check Your Fact reviewed the full DW interview, which can be found on YouTube, and found no evidence that Sahin at any point suggested or said he would not receive the vaccine due to concerns about its safety.

Sahin told The Times, a British newspaper, that he and his wife received their first doses of the vaccine in late January. “We got our shots at the end of January this year,” said Sahin. “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.”

Jasmina Alatovic, a BioNTech spokesperson, told Check Your Fact in an email that Sahin has since received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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