Michael Yeadon is a British anti-vaccine activist and retired pharmacologist who attracted media attention in 2020 and 2021 for making false or unfounded claims about the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. The Times has described him as "a hero of Covid conspiracy theorists" and "a key figure in the antivax movement". He previously served as the chief scientist and vice-president of the allergy and respiratory research division of the drug company Pfizer, and is the co-founder and former CEO of the biotechnology company Ziarco.
Yeadon received his PhD under Ian Kitchen at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. His thesis was in the respiratory system of rats. Yeadon worked with Salvador Moncada at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, focusing on airway hyper-responsiveness and the effects of pollutants such as Ozone and Nitrogen oxide, as well as working on drug discovery of 5-LO and COX.
He served as the chief scientist and vice-president of Pfizer's allergy and respiratory research unit in Sandwich, Kent, where he oversaw the development of drugs for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). During his work at Pfizer, Yeadon was responsible for the selection of targets and the progression of new molecules into human trials. His unit developed inhaled and oral NCEs that showed positive results in clinical trials for asthma, allergic rhinitis and COPD.[verification needed]
When Pfizer closed its Kent research facility in 2011. Yeadon, who had not worked with vaccines, then left Pfizer and with three colleagues founded the biotechnology company Ziarco, for which he served as CEO and which was sold to Novartis for $325 million in 2017.
Yeadon falsely claimed in an October 2020 blog post that the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom was "effectively over".[a] He stated that there would be no "second wave" of infections and that healthy people could not spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Yeadon has also discouraged COVID-19 lockdowns and the use of face masks despite evidence for their effectiveness. Several of Yeadon's false or misleading claims have been amplified on social media.
Yeadon has claimed without evidence that COVID-19 vaccines were unnecessary, unsafe, and could cause infertility in women. In a letter to the European Medicines Agency, Yeadon and the German physician Wolfgang Wodarg called for all vaccine trials to be stopped, falsely suggesting that mRNA vaccines could target the syncytin-1 protein needed for placenta formation.[b] A Telegram account under his name has promoted the unfounded claim that the vaccines cause recipients to become magnetic.
Yeadon has been interviewed by The Exposé, a website known for publishing COVID-19 misinformation. In an interview with American political strategist Steve Bannon, Yeadon falsely asserted that children were "50 times more likely to be killed by the COVID vaccines than the virus itself", citing a high number of events following COVID-19 vaccination reported on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database. The US Centers for Disease Control, which operates the database, cautions that such reports are not verified and do not prove that vaccines caused any given adverse event.
Yeadon founded the Liberal Spring movement in the UK, with the goal of turning the Liberal Democrats into a movement for "Covid-sceptic beliefs", according to The Times. He has contributed funding to Liberty Places, a group promising to build a community on the African archipelago of Zanzibar for Europeans to escape COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Interviewed on Bannon’s War Room podcast, Yeadon indicated he would also be providing support for “U.S. politicians and influencers".
- Yeadon, Michael; Diamant, Zuzana (2000). New and exploratory therapeutic agents for asthma. New York: Marcel Dekker. ISBN 0-585-25139-8. OCLC 45730917.
- In a November 2020 interview with talk show host Julia Hartley-Brewer, Yeadon falsely stated that the pandemic was "fundamentally over in the UK".
- Wodarg and Yeadon wrote, "There is no indication whether antibodies against spike proteins of SARS viruses would also act like anti-Syncytin-1 antibodies. However, if this were to be the case, this would then prevent the formation of a placenta which would result in vaccinated women essentially becoming infertile." Multiple fact-checkers have debunked the latter claim.
- Lytton, Charlotte; Dodds, Io (26 March 2022). "Why anti-vaxxers are starting new lives in exclusive tropical communes". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 28 March 2022.
- "Fact Check-Fact check: Ex-Pfizer scientist repeats COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in recorded speech". Reuters Fact Check. 20 May 2021.
- Osaki, Tomohiro (29 June 2021). "In Japan, anti-vaccine movement threatens to make widespread hesitancy worse". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2021.
- Lee, Ella (18 November 2021). "Fact check: Former Pfizer VP spreads false claim about COVID-19 vaccines and child deaths". USA Today.
- Parker, Charlie (28 August 2021). "The new breed of antivaxers". The Times. London.
- Ellery, Ben (15 August 2021). "Mike Yeadon: Antivaxer with eye on Lib Dems plans resort for unjabbed". The Times. London.
- Stecklow, Steve; Macaskill, Andrew (18 March 2021). "The ex-Pfizer scientist who became an anti-vax hero". Reuters.
- "UPDATED: Ex-Pfizer crew snags $27M financing for U.K. drugs startup". FierceBiotech. 5 November 2012.
- "Ziarco chooses Discovery Park as base for new drug development". Pharma Business International. 10 November 2015. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021.
- Yeadon, Michael (August 1988). Receptor mechanisms involved in opioid induced respiratory depression in the rat (doctoral thesis). University of Surrey – via ProQuest.
- Hodgson, Simon T.; et al. (1993). "Design and synthesis of achiral 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors employing the cyclobutyl group". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 3 (12): 2565–2570. doi:10.1016/S0960-894X(01)80717-4. ISSN 0960-894X.
- Harrison, Charlotte (1 February 2013). "Mike Yeadon". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 12 (2): 96. doi:10.1038/nrd3936. ISSN 1474-1784. PMID 23370238.
- Dapcevich, Madison (5 May 2021). "Did Michael Yeadon Say COVID-19 Vaccine Will Kill Recipients Within 2 Years?". Snopes.
- Hansel, T. T.; Barnes, P. J. (2010). New Drugs and Targets for Asthma and COPD. Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers. ISBN 978-3-8055-9567-4.
- "Pfizer helps fund biotech venture from former researchers at closed Kent facility". PMLive. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
- Piper, Ernie (20 July 2021). "Scientists vs Science: Interviews with Mike Yeadon and Robert Malone". Logically. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
- "Novartis Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Basel: Novartis. 2018. pp. 162, 198. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 November 2022.
- Swenson, Ali (30 November 2020). "Coronavirus pandemic is not 'effectively over' as op-ed claims". Associated Press News.
- McCarthy, Bill (2 December 2020). "Former Pfizer employee wrong that coronavirus pandemic is 'effectively over' in UK". PolitiFact.
- Teoh, Flora (10 November 2020). "A rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths starting in September 2020 contradicts the claim by Michael Yeadon that 'the pandemic is fundamentally over in the U.K.'". Health Feedback. Science Feedback.
- Kasprak, Alex (10 March 2021). "Did Pfizer's Former 'Chief Scientist' Say There Was 'No Need for Vaccines'?". Snopes.
- "Former Pfizer scientist wrong on asymptomatic COVID-19 spread". AAP FactCheck. Australian Associated Press. 14 May 2021.
- "Mike Yeadon wrong again on lockdowns and face masks". Full Fact. 23 April 2021.
- Wu, Katherine J. (10 December 2020). "No, there isn't evidence that Pfizer's vaccine causes infertility". The New York Times.
- "Fact Check-No evidence to support claim by ex-Pfizer scientist on COVID-19 vaccine safety in children". Reuters Fact Check. 16 November 2021.
- O'Rourke, Ciara (10 December 2020). "No, Pfizer's head of research didn't say the COVID-19 vaccine will make women infertile". PolitiFact.
- Lajka, Arijeta (20 April 2021). "Vaccines are needed to end the pandemic, prevent serious illness". Associated Press News.
- Palma, Bethania (4 December 2020). "Did 'Head of Pfizer Research' Say COVID-19 Vaccine 'Is Female Sterilization'?". Snopes.
- Gregory, John (13 September 2021). "The Top COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Spreading Online". Encyclopedia Britannica. NewsGuard.
- Rigby, Jennifer (30 June 2021). "How the Covid-19 vaccine fertility myth lapped the globe". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021.
- Dupuy, Beatrice (20 April 2021). "No evidence that COVID-19 vaccine results in sterilization". Associated Press News.
- "False: Michael Yeadon, head of research at Pfizer, stated that the mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 causes infertility in women". International Fact-Checking Network, Poynter Institute. 4 December 2020.
- Sajjadi, Nicholas B.; et al. (2021). "United States internet searches for 'infertility' following COVID-19 vaccine misinformation". Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 121 (6): 583–587. doi:10.1515/jom-2021-0059. PMID 33838086.
- Schraer, Rachel (11 August 2021). "Covid vaccine: Fertility and miscarriage claims fact-checked". BBC News.
- Jaramillo, Catalina (26 February 2021). "No Evidence Vaccines Impact Fertility". FactCheck.org.
- Eschner, Kat (5 November 2021). "NFL's Aaron Rodgers said fertility concerns kept him from getting vaccinated. Here's what's behind the fertility myth". Fortune. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021.
- Piper, Ernie (22 July 2021). "EXCLUSIVE: Actors Behind UK Misinformation Site The Daily Expose Revealed". Logically. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
- Kertscher, Tom (15 November 2021). "Kids '50 times more likely to be killed' by COVID-19 vaccines? Pants on Fire". PolitiFact.
- Marshall, Michael (9 December 2021). "Pfizer scientist turned anti-vaxxer Dr Mike Yeadon wins 2021 Rusty Razor award for pseudoscience". The Skeptic.
- McDermott, Stephen (30 May 2021). "Debunked: Claims by an ex-Pfizer employee about Covid-19 and vaccines are false and misleading". TheJournal.ie.
- "Video falsely claims that you cannot refuse the Covid-19 vaccines". Full Fact. 6 September 2021.