Old video footage of an interview with Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, from December 2020 is circulating online as “evidence” that he refuses to take the vaccine his company helped develop. But that’s not true. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Simple tricks of context and other kinds of easy manipulations — sometimes called “cheap fakes” — are extremely common and are often just as effective as more sophisticated misinformation tactics. This post also contains several traits of a conspiracy theory. The premise itself (that Sahin “refuses” to take the vaccine) is conspiratorial in nature, and the phrase “WAKE UP!” is commonly used by conspiracy theorists. The video has also been manipulated to emphasize a moment in the interview in which a reporter misspoke, saying that Sahin and his wife “played such a central role in the development of the virus” when he clearly meant to say “the development of the vaccine.”
- “Posts cite old interview to falsely claim BioNTech CEO isn’t vaccinated” (Angelo Fichera, The Associated Press).
NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to firstname.lastname@example.org.