A senior employee at Pfizer said in a conversation captured by the nonprofit journalism group Project Veritas that the pharmaceutical company is looking into mutating COVID-19 in order to facilitate the development of new vaccines.
“One of the things we're exploring is like, why don't we just mutate it ourselves so we could create—preemptively develop new vaccines, right?" Dr. Jordon Walker, a director of research and development at Pfizer, told an undercover reporter for Project Veritas.
"If we're going to do that though, there's a risk of like, as you could imagine—no one wants to be having a pharma company mutating [expletive] viruses," Walker added.
Walker claimed that scientists at Pfizer were "optimizing" a process to mutate COVID-19 but were going slow "because everyone is very cautious."
"Obviously they don’t want to accelerate it too much. I think they are also just trying to do it as an exploratory thing because you obviously don’t want to advertise that you are figuring out future mutations," Walker said. “You have to be very controlled to make sure that this virus that you mutate doesn’t create something that just goes everywhere. Which, I suspect, is the way that the virus started in Wuhan, to be honest," he also said, adding that COVID-19 is going to be "a cash cow for us for a while going forward."
Walker appeared to be speaking at a restaurant, unaware that he was being recorded.
An online professional profile for Walker describes him as director of worldwide R&D strategic operations and mRNA scientific planning at Pfizer. Cached versions in search engines of his Linkedin profile list the same title. His actual Linkedin page was removed. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is built on messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology.
The profile included a Pfizer email address for Walker, a cell phone number, and a phone number to Pfizer's headquarters. An email to the address was not returned, but did not bounce back. A receptionist at the headquarters, who was asked for Walker on Thursday, acknowledged that he was listed as an employee but said that his company profile did not list any contact information. On Friday, a different person said there was no listing for a Jordon Walker.
According to internal documents obtained by Project Veritas, Walker reports to Shuang Wu, who reports to Mikael Dolsten. Pfizer's chief scientific officer, Dolsten reports to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
Walker's profile said he has a medical degree and the state of New York has a Jordon Walker listed as having a physician license in the state.
Walker was confronted in a New York City establishment by Project Veritas head James O'Keefe with footage of him talking about the COVID-19 mutation exploration. Walker confirmed that the video was authentic but said he was not telling the truth.
"I was trying to impress a person on a date by lying. I'm not even a scientist by background. You know I came from a consulting firm that does business," Walker told O'Keefe.
"Why are you doing this to someone who's just working at a company that’s trying to literally help the public?" he said later.
Walker called the police but officers declined to arrest any Project Veritas employees. One officer said he would have arrested Walker for assault if O'Keefe had not left before the officers arrived.
After the publication of the first video, social media and other profiles for Walker and Wu were taken offline.
Pfizer's media office did not respond to requests for comment.
Senators RespondSen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) shared the footage of Walker talking about mutating COVID-19.
"It’s time for Congress to thoroughly investigate vaccine manufacturers and the entire COVID vaccine approval process," he said in a statement.
"As has been proven time and time again, attempts to mutate a virus, particularly one as potent as COVID, are dangerous. If the claims detailed in the video are true, Pfizer has put its desire for profit over the concern of national and global health and must hold itself accountable," Rubio wrote.
He asked Bourla to answer a series of questions, including whether Pfizer is currently, or is planning to, mutate the virus and, if the mutation is planned or happening, whether any federal officials are aware of the efforts or plans.
"As a leader in global public health and development of the COVID vaccine, with American taxpayer dollars, it is critical that Pfizer is accountable for their actions and be transparent with the public on the substance and intent of their research," Rubio said.
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the Bioethics and American Democracy Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said that what Walker was describing fits the definition of gain of function, or making a virus more transmissible and/or virulent.
"Pfizer was ... potentially creating a super virus," Kheriaty said on a Twitter Space. "Whether that was their intention or not, doesn't really matter. The fact that they were doing it, and the fact that that dangerous virus wouldn't exist in the world without the experiments that they were engaged in, I think that's the decisive point."