FACT CHECK: Did Pfizer Admit All Of Its COVID-19 Vaccines Were Placebos?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Instagram allegedly shows a screenshot of an alleged tweet from pharmaceutical company Pfizer saying all of its COVID-19 vaccines were placebos.


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A post shared by Sam Winnig (@samwinnig)

Verdict: False

The tweet is digitally fabricated. No such tweet appears on Pfizer’s verified Twitter profile.

Fact Check:

Pfizer’s updated COVID-19 booster produced more antibodies against the Omicron variants of the virus, CNBC reported. Antibody levels increased almost nine-fold among adults ages 55 and older who received the booster, according to Reuters.

The Instagram post purportedly shows a screenshot of an alleged Pfizer tweet that says all of its COVID-19 vaccines were placebos. “Every single one of our COVID-19 vaccines was just a placebo,” the purported tweet, which has over 18,000 likes, reads.

The tweet is digitally fabricated. There are no credible news reports suggesting Pfizer published such an admission on Twitter. Likewise, the claim does not appear on the pharmaceutical company’s website or its verified Facebook and Instagram pages. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not publicly commented on the claim.

An advanced Twitter search also reveals no such tweet has been published to Pfizer’s verified Twitter profile.

“In our 2020 multinational, placebo-controlled, observer-blinded, pivotal efficacy Phase 3 clinical trial, we randomly assigned persons 16 years of age or older in a 1:1 ratio to receive two doses, 21 days apart, of either placebo or the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate (30 μg per dose),” a Pfizer Media Relations spokesperson told Check Your Fact via email.

The spokesperson also directed Check Your Fact to a study highlighting the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine that has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (RELATED: Was Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel Arrested By The Special Forces?)

The study showed that approximately 162 cases of COVID-19 were detected in the placebo group of 21,728, while only 8 cases were found in the vaccinated group of 21,720. At no point in the study does it suggest all persons in the trial were injected with placebos or that the placebo was more effective than the actual vaccine.

This is not the first time a false claim about COVID-19 vaccines has circulated on social media. Check Your Fact previously debunked a post purporting the U.K. had banned the COVID-19 vaccine for children over concerns about adverse effects.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter