US drugmaker Pfizer is denying any wrongdoing after a British TV documentary showed a presentation on its behalf had criticized the rival Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca as potentially dangerous and unsafe.
Teasers for a Channel 4 Dispatches investigative report, shown Monday, say that a Pfizer presentation described AstraZeneca's vaccine against Covid-19 as unsafe for patients with compromised immune systems and potentially causing cancer. The speech took place in Canada sometime last year, but it was unclear whether it was a one-off event or if the speaker made the claim multiple times.
The full report, titled 'Vaccine Wars: The Truth About Pfizer,' is due to air on Friday.
Pfizer reacted by saying the presentation was "wrongly attributed" to them and was done by a third party.
"We refute any suggestion that Pfizer has sought to undermine others' scientific endeavors," a company spokesman told the Daily Mail. "Our priority has always been getting high-quality, well-tolerated and effective vaccines to patients all over the world as quickly as possible and to help put an end to this deadly pandemic."
The spokesperson explained that Pfizer had paid a third-party agency to create an educational program about vaccines in Canada, after the government in Ottawa approved Pfizer's product for use in the country.
Channel 4 also said that Pfizer's manufacturing costs were just 76 pence per jab ($1.01) but the company was charging the UK government Pound 22 ($29.17) per dose, in what would amount to a 3,000% markup.
Pfizer said the estimate was "grossly inaccurate" and did not account for the cost of clinical studies, "manufacturing on a massive scale" and global distribution.
AstraZeneca, which developed its jab in cooperation with Oxford University, has reportedly sold its vaccine at cost for Pound 3.60 ($4.77), losing out on Pound 21 billion ($27,84bn) in potential revenue, while Pfizer has seen a windfall from the vaccines. However, the AZ jab has been dogged by reports of potentially fatal blood clots in certain populations, and the UK has since ordered twice as many Pfizer vaccines.