A Pfizer board member who used to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lobbied Twitter to take action against a post accurately pointing out that natural immunity is superior to COVID-19 vaccination, according to an email released on Jan. 9.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote on Aug. 27, 2021, to Twitter executive Todd O’Boyle to request Twitter take action against a post from Dr. Brett Giroir, another former FDA commissioner.
“This is the kind of stuff that’s corrosive. Here he draws a sweeping conclusion off a single retrospective study in Israel that hasn’t been peer reviewed. But this tweet will end up going viral and driving news coverage,” Gottlieb wrote.
Giroir had written that it was clear natural immunity, or post-infection immunity, “is superior to vaccine immunity, by ALOT.” He said there was no scientific justification to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination if a person had natural immunity. “If no previous infection? Get vaccinated!” he also wrote.
Giroir pointed to what was at the time a preprint study from Israeli researchers that found, after analyzing health records, that natural immunity provided better protection than vaccination. The study was later published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases following peer review.
Gottlieb’s email triggered messages on Jira, Twitter’s internal messaging system, according to journalist Alex Berenson, who was granted access to Twitter’s internal files by CEO Elon Musk.
“Please see this report from the former FDA commissioner,” O’Boyle wrote.
A Twitter analyst who reviewed the post determined it did not violate any misinformation rules but Twitter still put a tag on it, claiming to all users who viewed it that it was “misleading” and directing them to a link that would show “why health officials recommend a vaccine for most people.” The tag prevented people from replying to, sharing, or liking Giroir’s post.
Gottlieb, Twitter, and Giroir, now the CEO of Altesa BioSciences, did not respond to requests for comment.
Gottlieb later messaged O’Boyle again, flagging a post from Justin Hart, a critic of lockdowns and a skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines, Berenson reported.
Gottlieb took issue with Hart writing that “sticks and stones may break my bones but a viral pathogen with a child mortality rate of <>0% has cost our children nearly three years of schooling.”
Gottlieb did not detail why he wanted to censor Hart, but the objection came shortly before the U.S. government authorized and recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.
O’Boyle sent the request to Twitter analysts, failing for a second time to disclose Gottlieb’s ties to Pfizer. The complaint did not trigger any action.
“Our team of ragtag analysts, activists, moms and dads have been going after Scott since April 2020 when he repeatedly advocated for school closures and lockdowns. He doesn’t like people pushing back on the narrative,” Hart told The Epoch Times in a Twitter message.
Tried to Get Journalist Banned
The message showed that Gottlieb forwarded a blog post from Berenson to a Twitter worker, writing that Berenson calling Dr. Anthony Fauci arrogant was an example of why Fauci, at the time the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, needed a security detail.
Four days later, and a day after Gottlieb met with Twitter workers, Twitter banned Berenson for allegedly violating its rules on COVID-19 misinformation.
Gottlieb defended his actions.
“I’ve raised concerns around social media broadly,” Gottlieb said during an appearance on CNBC. “And I’ve done it around the threats that are being made on these platforms, and the inability of these platforms to police direct threats, physical threats about people, that’s my concerns around social media, and what’s going on in that ecosystem.”
“I am very concerned with physical threats being made against people’s safety and the people who gin up those threats against individuals,” he also said.
Berenson responded that he’d never threatened Fauci or Gottlieb and referred to Gottlieb’s comments.
In the post that triggered Gottlieb’s email, Berenson criticized Fauci for saying that “attacks on me are attacks on science” and how he handled the U.S. pandemic response.
Berenson was reinstated to Twitter in 2022 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit he brought against the company. Berenson obtained Gottlieb’s email about Fauci’s post during discovery. Before the settlement agreement, a judge had concluded that Berenson plausibly alleged Twitter failed to abide by a policy of five strikes before banning the journalist.