Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Pfizer, claiming the company unlawfully misrepresented the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine and tried to censor public discussion of the vaccine.
Paxton said Pfizer engaged in a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act.
At issue was Pfizer and BioNTech saying that their COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective against infection following its Phase 3 trial. Pfizer said the vaccine reached 95% effectiveness 28 days after the first dose was administered.
Pfizer's Phase 3 trial concluded in November 2020. The following month, the general public began getting vaccinated in non-clinical settings
As many health officials have noted, the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine waned. Paxton said that "vaccine protection could not accurately be predicted beyond two months."
Pfizer disputes this claim. The company said the case has "no merit" and will respond in court.
"Pfizer is deeply committed to the well-being of the patients it serves and has no higher priority than the safety and effectiveness of its treatments and vaccines," the company said in a statement. "Since its initial authorization by FDA in December 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to more than 1.5 billion people, demonstrated a favorable safety profile in all age groups, and helped protect against severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization and death. The representations made by the company about its COVID-19 vaccine have been accurate and science-based."
As part of Paxton's argument, he said the pandemic "got worse" in 2021 as there were more reported deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 463,000 COVID-19-related deaths in 2021, compared to 385,000 in 2020.
By 2022, the number declined to about 246,000.
"This, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of Americans received a COVID-19 vaccine, with most taking Pfizer’s," the petition reads.
Although much of 2020 was spent with large-scale pandemic-related shutdowns, life largely returned to normal by the end of 2021. Also, there were only a handful of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. before March 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate that the original vaccine that was administered to most Americans in 2021 had lost some of its effectiveness against hospitalization during the period from September 2022 through May 2023, especially among those who are immunocompromised.
However, data showed that getting a bivalent booster helped give some additional protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the first four months after getting the vaccine.
Because of new variants, regulators have authorized updated shots in lieu of the original COVID-19 vaccine that was released in late 2020.
Paxton returned as the state's attorney general in September after surviving an impeachment vote in the Texas legislature.
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