On Monday 24 May, a number of French influencers shared a strange proposal they'd received a few days ago. An obscure communications agency offered them, for a fee, to publicly criticise the Pfizer vaccine used against COVID-19.
A partnership 'to take down Pfizer'
Sami Ouladitto (a comedian, with nearly 400,000 subscribers on YouTube), Et ça se dit Médecin (a medical intern, 84,000 Instagram followers) and Léo Grasset (science populariser, 1.17 million subscribers to his YouTube channel) spoke out yesterday on their Twitter accounts. All three tell the same story: an agency contacted them to offer them a partnership to denigrate the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. As Léo Grasset explains
This is strange. I received a partnership proposal to trash the Pfizer vaccine on video. Huge budget, client wants to remain incognito and sponsorship must be hidden. Ethics/10. If you see videos on this, you will know that it is an operation, now.
A 'lousy' manipulation according to Health Minister Olivier Véran
The three influencers did their research. This communication agency, supposedly based in London, does not even exist. The premises indicated by the agency are in fact 'a laser beauty centre,' whose employees apparently have 'weird LinkedIn profiles that have been disappearing since this morning' and who would all have 'worked in Russia before,' adds Léo Grasset.
'I don't know where it comes from, I don't know if it comes from France or abroad,' commented the Health Minister on Tuesday 25 May, while travelling in Avignon. For the moment, suspicions are directed towards Russia, news channel BFMTV said.
The French are largely in the majority in favour of the vaccine today and I do not believe that attempts to try to communicate negatively are likely to turn the French away from vaccination, whether they come from outside the country or elsewhere.
Influencers were reportedly offered €2,000 (£1727) to denigrate the Pfizer vaccine.