False claims are spreading that the FDA didn't approve the Pfizer vaccine
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False claims spread that the FDA didn’t grant the Pfizer vaccine full approval

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19
The FDA granted the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine full approval on Monday. (Reuters)

Misinformation about the US Food and Drug Administration granting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine full approval Monday has continued to spread on social media.

The latest false narrative centered on whether the agency had only granted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, now being marketed under the name Comirnaty, an extension of its emergency use authorization. Threads claiming that the FDA didn’t approve the vaccine started to appear on 4chan, “The Patriots” (formerly “The Donald”) and other anonymous message boards. The false narrative was echoed by prominent conservative influencers on social media.

“They just extended the Emergency Use Authorization and then claimed something had substantially changed,” reads one popular post on 4chan’s /pol/ board. The claim arose from misreading a letter the FDA had sent to Pfizer. While the FDA did extend the emergency use authorization for children ages 12-15, it granted full approval for anyone 16 or older.

Damani Bryant Felder, a self-described “MAGA” supporter, echoed similar claims and said he didn’t misread the FDA’s letter. “I read the entire document, all 13 pages,” Felder said during a Facebook Live video that has been viewed at least 58,000 times. “What they have more or less done is that we’re going to extend this emergency use authorization, that’s what this document actually says.” Similarly, Zak Paine, under the Rumble username “Redpill78,” claimed the vaccine was not approved in an episode of his QAnon-themed show that has at least 83,000 views. He later said he misinterpreted the FDA letter but that he still wouldn’t take the vaccine.

During Steve Bannon’s “War Room” talk show on August 24, Robert Malone, a scientist who claims he invented mRNA technology and is a prominent Covid-19 vaccine skeptic, falsely said that the FDA only approved the BioNTech vaccine and that vaccine is different from the Pfizer one. The American multinational pharmaceutical firm Pfizer has partnered with the German biotechnology firm BioNTech, which developed the vaccine, for clinical trials and manufacturing support. Malone reiterated the false claim in a subsequent tweet. — Keenan Chen

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