Fact Check: Instagram posts – Moderna CEO didn’t ‘admit’ company produced 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2019

Fact Check: Instagram posts – Moderna CEO didn’t ‘admit’ company produced 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2019

Did Moderna know about COVID-19 before the rest of the world did, and did it capitalize on that knowledge? That’s impossible, but posts on social media say Moderna’s CEO said as much.

An article published on the website News Punch on Feb. 10 said, “Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel has been caught admitting to his friends at the World Economic Forum that his company produced 100,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2019 – before the pandemic started.”

A video embedded in the article — posted by the account “The People’s Voice” on Rumble – showed a clip of Bancel speaking at the World Economic Forum.

Bancel was asked about the “extraordinary process” behind developing the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“(When) the pandemic happened, we had made 100,000 doses in 2019 for the whole year,” the French executive said, “and I remember walking after Davos into the office of my head of manufacturing, and I say ‘How we make a billion doses next year?’ And he look at me a bit funny, say, ‘What?’ I say, ‘Yeah, we need to make a billion doses next year, there’s going to be a pandemic.’”

This clip was also used in Instagram posts.

These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Did Bancel confirm a COVID-19 conspiracy? No, he did not. 

Several fact-checkers – including Lead Stories, USA Today, Reuters, Health Feedback and FactCheck.org – previously fact-checked this claim and rated it false or misrepresented.

Moderna spokesperson Chris Ridley told PolitiFact that the claim is inaccurate.

“(Bancel) was referencing the 100,000 doses that we had across our entire portfolio. Vaccines and therapeutics for cancer, rare diseases,” Ridley said.

On Jan. 23, 2020, Moderna announced a funding award from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. 

The agreement involved a collaboration between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — part of the National Institutes of Health — and Moderna to design the vaccine.

Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted Nov. 16, 2020, that the partnership between NIH and Moderna to develop the COVID-19 vaccine started as early as Jan. 13, 2020. 

Our ruling

An article and Instagram posts claim Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company produced 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before the pandemic.

Bancel was not referring to COVID-19 vaccine doses, but rather the company’s entire portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics including those for rare diseases and cancer. 

Moderna partnered with the National Institutes of Health in January 2020 to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

We rate this claim False.

Source: PolitiFact.

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