Pfizer vaccine: Influencers say Russia-linked PR agency asked them to disparage Covid jab

Fazze offered YouTubers and bloggers money to pretend vaccine had killed hundreds

Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. File photograph: PA

Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. File photograph: PA

 

French and German YouTubers, bloggers and influencers have been offered money by a supposedly UK-based PR agency with apparent Russian connections to falsely tell their followers the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is responsible for hundreds of deaths.

Fazze, which said it was an “influencer marketing platform… connecting bloggers and advertisers”, claimed to be based at 5 Percy Street in London but is not registered there.

On Tuesday, it closed its website and made its Instagram account private.

The agency contacted several French health and science YouTubers last week and asked them, in poor English, to “explain… the death rate among the vaccinated with Pfizer is almost three-times higher than the vaccinated by AstraZeneca”.

The influencers were told to publish links on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok to reports in Le Monde, on Reddit and on the Ethical Hacker website about a leaked report containing data that supposedly substantiates the claim.

The article in Le Monde is about data reportedly stolen by Russian hackers from the European Medicines Agency and later published on the dark web. It contains no information on mortality rates. The pages on the other two sites have been deleted.

The influencers were asked to tell their subscribers that “the mainstream media ignores this theme”, and to ask: “Why some governments actively purchasing Pfizer vaccine, which is dangerous to the health of the people?”

The brief also included requests to “act like you have the passion and interest in this topic”, and to avoid using the words “advertising” or “sponsored” in posts or videos because “the material should be presented as your own independent view”.

‘Colossal budget’

Screen shots of the emails were posted on Twitter by Léo Grasset, a popular French science YouTuber with nearly 1.2m subscribers. Grasset said the campaign had a “colossal budget” but that the agency refused to identify its client.

The French investigative news site Numerama also published extracts from the exchanges, including Fazze’s exhortation to “encourage viewers to draw their own conclusions, take care of themselves and their loved ones”.

Mirko Drotschman, a German YouTuber and podcaster with 1.5 million subscribers, also posted a screenshot of an email asking him to take part in an “information campaign” about “a significant number of deaths” after the Pfizer shot.

“Please send us statistics on the age of your subscribers… and how much it would cost,” the mail concluded.

The French investigative website Fact&Furious posted a mail describing Fazze’s budget as “considerable” and the fee as “the rate you wish”.

According to LinkedIn, Fazze’s management come from Moscow and have worked for an agency reportedly founded by a Russian entrepreneur.

French media have pointed to the similarities between Fazze’s message and the official Twitter account of Russia’s Sputnik V – a viral vector vaccine like AstraZeneca – which has repeatedly claimed “real world data” shows they are “safer and more efficient” than mRNA vaccines.

An EU study last month accused Russian and Chinese media of “state-sponsored disinformation” aimed at sowing mistrust in western vaccines by sensationalising safety concerns, making “unfounded links between shots and deaths in Europe”, and promoting Russian and Chinese vaccines as superior. – Guardian

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