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France puzzled by mystery anti-Pfizer campaign offer

Several French social media influencers say they have received a mysterious financial offer to spread negative publicity about the Pfizer vaccine.

They say an agency claiming to be based in the UK has contacted them by email offering a “partnership”.

He said that the address the agency had given appeared to be bogus.

He said the LinkedIn profiles of the agency’s alleged employees he had managed to find later disappeared, but not before he noticed that “everybody there has worked in Russia”.

Léo Grasset posted what he said were instructions from the agency, urging him not to use such words as “advertising” or “sponsored video” if he were to agree to the partnership offer.

“Present the material as your own independent view,” the email said.

It also asked him to spread among his followers a false claim that the death rate among the vaccinated by Pfizer is almost three times higher than among those who have received AstraZeneca.

C’est étrange.

J’ai reçu une proposition de partenariat qui consiste à déglinguer le vaccin Pfizer en vidéo. Budget colossal, client qui veut rester incognito et il faut cacher la sponso.

Éthique/20. Si vous voyez des vidéos là dessus vous saurez que c’est une opé, du coup.

— Léo Grasset (@dirtybiology) May 24, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Several other French social media influencers, all of whom are involved in the health and science field, said they had been contacted with a similar offer.

Et Ça Se Dit Médecin, a hospital intern with more than 85,000 Instagram followers, told France’s BFMTV that he was offered €2,050 ($2,510; £1,775) for a 30-second story on his account.

Meanwhile, French Health Minister Olivier Véran told BFMTV: “I do not know where this [partnership offer] comes from, from France or abroad. “It is pathetic, it is dangerous, it is irresponsible and it does not work.”

media captionWhy do new variants of Covid-19 keep appearing? Laura Foster explains

The two-dose Pfizer vaccine (full name Pfizer-BioNTech) is the most commonly administered vaccine in France. It is produced by America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech companies.

AstraZeneca, also a two-dose vaccine being used in France, is manufactured by a UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

In April, a European Union report said Russian and Chinese state-run media were systematically trying to sow public mistrust in Western Covid vaccines – a claim denied in Moscow.

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