FACT CHECK: Did Global News Report That Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Has A 12 Percent Efficacy Rate?

Hannah Hudnall and Trevor Schakohl | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows an article from Global News claiming that data from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer indicates its COVID-19 vaccine has a 12 percent efficacy rate.



Verdict: False

The image is digitally fabricated. Research suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is usually effective.

Fact Check:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently accepted an application from Pfizer that would make its COVID-19 vaccine available to kids under 5, according to ABC News. The vaccine, which demonstrated 80 percent effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19, is expected to be approved sometime in June, the outlet reported.

An image shared on Facebook calls these reports into question. It shows what appears to be a screenshot of an article from Global News with a headline that reads, “Pfizer clinical trial data reveals the company’s COVID vaccine has a 12% efficacy rate.”

The article is digitally fabricated. The alleged report could not be found on Global News’ website nor any of its social media posts.

“We can confirm that the headline and caption in question were never published on our site and they are falsely associated with the Global News brand,” a Global News spokesperson told Check Your Fact via email.

The outlet tweeted in December 2020 that Pfizer’s COVID-19 was “95 per cent effective,” citing data from Pfizer’s clinical trials. (RELATED: Viral Post Claims The FDA Did Not Approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine)

The claim in the fake headline appears to have originated with an April 3 Substack post that discusses a briefing document for the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting in December 2020 on Pfizer’s vaccine. The post incorrectly claimed the document states the actual efficacy rate is 12 percent when “suspected but unconfirmed” cases are factored in, according to epidemiologist and Guardian writer Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz.

A December 2020 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found “A two-dose regimen of BNT162b2 conferred 95% protection against Covid-19 in persons 16 years of age or older” in a study done with 43,548 participants. A new clinical trial with 40,000 participants conducted in August 2021 found the efficacy rate had dropped to 91 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterates that COVID-19 vaccines are “safe and effective,” though warns that “breakthrough” cases can occur.

Hannah Hudnall and Trevor Schakohl