Pfizer late Jan. 28 responded to comments from a director at the company about exploring ways to mutate COVID-19 as a method to “preemptively develop new vaccines.”
“In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research,” Pfizer said in a lengthy written statement after days of ignoring queries from The Epoch Times and other outlets.
Pfizer did say 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.”
“This work is undertaken once a new variant of concern has been identified by public health authorities. This research provides a way for us to rapidly assess the ability of an existing vaccine to induce antibodies that neutralize a newly identified variant of concern. We then make this data available through peer reviewed scientific journals and use it as one of the steps to determine whether a vaccine update is required,” the company added.
Pfizer did say it has conducted experiments in a level 3 laboratory.
Pfizer said, in its work developing a treatment for COVID-19, it has “engineered” the COVID-19 virus “to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells.”
“In addition, in vitro resistance selection experiments are undertaken in cells incubated with SARS-CoV-2 and nirmatrelvir in our secure Biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratory to assess whether the main protease can mutate to yield resistant strains of the virus,” Pfizer said. “It is important to note that these studies are required by U.S. and global regulators for all antiviral products and are carried out by many companies and academic institutions in the U.S. and around the world.”
Pfizer produces a COVID-19 treatment called Paxlovid, or nirmatrelvir that is authorized in the United States and some other countries.
In its statement, Pfizer did not dispute that Dr. Jordon Walker, who told a Project Veritas journalist that Pfizer is exploring how to “mutate” the COVID-19 virus, was or is a Pfizer employee.
Professional profiles for Walker, which have since been taken down, listed him as a director of messenger RNA research at the company. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine utilizes messenger RNA. The profiles also listed a Pfizer email address, and an email sent to that address did not bounce back. A receptionist at Pfizer on Thursday also told The Epoch Times that Walker had an internal company profile, but a different receptionist on Friday said there was no listing for the doctor, indicating he might have been terminated after the comments were made public.
Dr. Robert Malone, who helped develop the messenger RNA technology, said that the experiments Pfizer described met the definition of “gain of function.”
“Pfizer is basically acknowledging that they are doing the same type of gain of function research that Boston University was caught doing, but they are denying that it is gain of function or directed evolution,” Malone wrote on Twitter.
Malone pointed to Pfizer’s comment about taking the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and using it “to express the spike protein from new variants of concern.”
Gain of function generally describes experiments that aim to increase functions of a virus such as transmissibility and virulence. Walker had said in his comments that the work he was describing was not gain of function, but “directed evolution.”
Researchers with Boston University revealed in 2022 that they had developed a strain of COVID-19 that killed 80 percent of mice infected with it.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is supposed to oversee risky research conducted in or funded by the United States but has faced criticism for only reviewing a handful of projects—none since 2019—under the oversight system.
The NIH funded gain of function experiments at the Wuhan laboratory situated near where the first COVID-19 cases were identified, and officials have promised to keep funding research in China.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had written a letter to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla referring to Walker’s remarks and questioning whether the company has or is planning to mutate the COVID-19 virus.
Walker’s comments “are alarming,” Rubio wrote in the Jan. 26 missive.
YouTube Takes Down Video
In a notice sent to Project Veritas, Google-owned YouTube cited its medical misinformation policy, which bars “claims about COVID-19 vaccination that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO).”
A Google spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that the portion of the video featuring O’Keefe stating that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines “are ineffective against virus variants” violated the policy.
The spokesperson did not immediately respond with a request for citations for the vaccine being effective against variants.
The shot has performed much worse against Omicron and its subvariants, providing minimal protection against infection and lowered shielding against severe illness.
“For a journalist to ask a leading question, they take a video down? They’re saying you can’t even ask a question? How are journalists supposed to investigate powerful pharmaceutical companies when Big Tech censors questions that the public wants answers to?” a spokesperson for Project Veritas told The Epoch Times in an email.
Project Veritas was given a “strike,” which prevents the organization from taking actions like uploading new videos for one week. A second strike would block such actions for two weeks and a third strike in a 90-day period would result in a permanent removal of the group’s account, YouTube warned.
The video is still available in other places, including on Twitter and Rumble.
Rumble said in a statement that the company “will hold the line against this outrageous censorship by keeping the video up and even featuring it on our homepage.”
After the Project Veritas video was first published, searching Google for it would turn up a message that “the results below are changing quickly” and that “if this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for reliable sources to publish information.” Further, evidence of Walker’s LinkedIn didn’t show up when searching for him. On DuckDuckGo, the deleted LinkedIn profile was the top result.
Editor’s note: This article was updated with comments from Google and Project Veritas.