By Joanna Button
What happened? Recently reviewed financial disclosures from Pfizer show they provided funding to numerous organizations that lobbied for COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Pfizer ended up profiting massively from the mandates, as their COVID-19 vaccine is by far the most administered in the U.S.
Lobbying: Numerous medical and pharmaceutical associations signed a letter asking the Biden administration to impose vaccine mandates on private employers after receiving sizable grants from Pfizer. As they were calling for mandates for health care workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians received as much as $250,000 from Pfizer. A whole host of other associations and companies also received grants before publicly supporting mandates and lobbying against efforts that would curb mandates.
Other influence: Pfizer also gave New York University and the Mayo Clinic money after they imposed mandates on their own students and staff. Other groups paid by Pfizer worked to dispel vaccine hesitancy, sometimes spreading false information. For example, the Alliance of Aging Research falsely claimed that messenger RNA from COVID vaccines “only survives for a few hours in the body.”
Big picture: Pfizer was able to shape health care policy through outside organizations, and despite conflicts of interest, these medical associations prioritized financial gain over patients’ freedom of choice by quietly accepting payments from one of the biggest players in the pharmaceutical industry. As the extent of pharmaceutical lobbying comes to light, public trust in government, institutions, and medical associations is further eroding.