Pfizer executive Albert Bourla named winner of 2022 ‘Jewish Nobel’

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Pfizer executive Albert Bourla named winner of 2022 ‘Jewish Nobel’

The Genesis Prize was awarded for his role in delivering a COVID-19 vaccine ‘in record time’

Pfizer's Albert Bourla, the 2022 Genesis Prize recipient (Photo: Joshua Jordan)
Pfizer's Albert Bourla, the 2022 Genesis Prize recipient (Photo: Joshua Jordan)

Pharmaceutical executive Albert Bourla has been announced as the winner of 2022’s Genesis Prize, the award nicknamed the “Jewish Nobel”.

Bourla, the chairman and chief executive of medical giant Pfizer, was picked for the $1 million (£730,000) prize in a global online ballot that saw 200,000 people vote from 71 countries.

The Genesis Prize Selection Committee praised him for turning down billions of dollars in US government subsidies in developing his firm’s COVID-19 vaccine.

It said that decision helped “avoid government bureaucracy and expedite development and product of the vaccine. As a result, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was ready in record time: months instead of years.”

Bourla said he accepted the award “humbly and on behalf of all my Pfizer colleagues who answered the urgent call of history these past two years”.

He added: “I was brought up in a Jewish family who believed that each of us is only as strong as the bonds of our community; and that we are all called upon by God to repair the world.”

Previous recipients of the prize include director Steven Spielberg in 2021 and Natan Sharansky, the human rights activist and former Jewish Agency director, in 2020.

Bourla was born in Greece and raised in a family that experienced the Holocaust, being among the 2,000 survivors of a community in Thessaloniki that numbered 50,000 before the arrival of the Nazis.

Stan Polovets, the Genesis Prize chairman, said Bourla was “a bright star in the constellation of outstanding Jewish scientists and doctors at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.

“We hope that these extraordinary individuals, and their colleagues, join us in Jerusalem to further unite in our common resolve to save lives and honour our heritage.”

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