In mid-December 2020, BioNTech, a drugmaker, along with the German government, contacted Twitter with a warning of an imminent “campaign targeting the pharmaceutical companies developing the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to an email from Nina Morschhaeuser, a lobbyist for Twitter in Europe.
The campaign in question was an international push to force the drug industry to share the intellectual property and patents associated with coronavirus vaccine development, in order to allow countries across the world to swiftly manufacture generic vaccines and other low-cost therapeutics to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
Morschhaeuser, while alerting several site integrity and safety teams at Twitter, forwarded an email from BioNTech spokesperson Jasmina Alatovic, who asked Twitter to “hide” activist tweets targeting her company’s account over a period of two days.
Morschhaeuser flagged the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for her colleagues to monitor and shield from activists.
It is not clear to what extent Twitter took any action on BioNTech’s request. However, it shows the extent to which pharmaceutical giants engaged in a global lobbying blitz to ensure corporate dominance over the medical products that became central to combat the pandemic.
Ultimately, the campaign to share Covid vaccine recipes around the world failed.