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Africa: No, the vice-president of a pharmaceutical company has not been arrested and the coronavirus vaccine is not experimental

A number of social media posts claim that Rady Johnson, the executive vice president of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of fraud by US federal agents.

One version of the posts includes what looks like a screenshot of a tweet from an account with the name “Trevor Lloyd-Jones” and handle @lloydjones. The tweet reads, “It’s begun. #Pfizer VP arrested at his home and charged with multiple counts of fraud by US Federal Agents. #PfizeGate #PfizerDump.”

Another version adds details, attributing the message to something received on the Signal messaging app: “Rady Johnson, the executive vice president of Pfizer, was arrested at his home and charged with multiple counts of fraud. by federal agents. This is thousands of classified Pfizer documents released showing the true risks of experimental vaxxin.”

“Experimental vaxxin” refers to the vaccine against Covid-19, one of which is made by Pfizer and BioNTech and known as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Cominarty vaccine.

We found the original Tweeter, published May 7, 2022. It links to an article from a website called the Vancouver Times. Somewhat confusingly, the article includes a number of tweets that link to the article itself. So what’s going on here?

Openly satirical site

At the bottom of the article, the Vancouver Times includes a disclaimer: “This is a satirical article. Health officials in Canada consider vaccines safe and effective.”

On its About Us page, the Vancouver Times states, “The Vancouver Times is the most trusted source of satire on the West Coast. We write satirical articles on issues that affect conservatives. We are not affiliated with mainstream media (CBC, CTV, etc.) in any way, and any similarity between our content and the work of MSM is purely coincidental.

However, many social media users and people commenting on the article seem to be treating the story as factual. This has been identified by some researchers as a growing problem, contributing to the spread of misinformation online. Although not an easy term to define, satire must be understood as satire – if not to be true – in order to be effective.

But is there any truth to this story?

No evidence Johnson was arrested, Pfizer vaccine not ‘experimental’

Searching for the phrases “Rady Johnson arrest” and “Rady Johnson fraud” turned up no reports from credible news organizations.

There is no evidence that Johnson was charged or arrested for fraud. There is also no evidence that classified Pfizer documents have been leaked.

Calling a drug “experimental” implies that it has been lab tested and approved by authorities to be tested on people in clinical trials, but has not yet been approved for wider use.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is not experimental. It has been tested at over 150 sites in many different countries, including the United States and South Africa.

The vaccine received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 23, 2021. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahrpa) approved the vaccine on September 10, after granted a first emergency authorization for its use on March 16.

As of May 16, 2022, 26,825,211 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in South Africa. This included first, second and encore.

Side effects of widely publicized Covid-19 vaccines

The side effects of the vaccine have been noted by different organizations. Some effects listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:

Redness and swelling at the injection site

Fatigue

Headache

New or worsening muscle pain

There is no evidence that Pfizer’s Rady Johnson was arrested “on multiple counts of fraud” – the source of this social media claim is an article published as a satire. But there is plenty of evidence to show that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and that the “true risks” or side effects of the vaccine have been made clear to the public.