Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla (pictured) has become the latest leader to cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic, after scoring a deal with Harper Business to write a book on the vaccine maker's 'nine-month race to make the impossible possible'
Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla has become the latest leader to cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic, after scoring a deal with Harper Business to write a book on the vaccine maker's 'nine-month race to make the impossible possible'.
Bourla, 59, whose pay rose 17 percent to a staggering $21 million last year, has written 'an exclusive, first-hand, behind-the-scenes story' of how Pfizer developed its COVID-19 vaccines in just nine months instead of the years it typically takes to create shots.
The hardcover book, 'Moonshot: Inside Pfizer's Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible', will be released on November 9 with a retail price of $29.99.
It is not clear how much Bourla is getting paid by Harpers for his story but the CEO is said to be planning to donate all proceeds to charity.
It is also not clear how much or even if Bourla will credit President Trump's Operation Warp Speed for cutting the bureaucratic red tape and allowing vaccine's to be created in record time.
Bourla at the Pfizer factory in Puurs, Belgium, in April. The CEO, 59, walked away with a total pay package of $21 million in 2020, up 17% from his $17.9 million package in 2019
The hardcover book (above), 'Moonshot: Inside Pfizer's Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible', will be released on November 9 with a retail price of $29.99
Harpers describes 'Moonshot' as 'a riveting, fast-paced, inside look at one of the most incredible private sector achievements in history'.
Bourla recounts how Pfizer's success 'wasn't due to luck' but 'preparation driven by four simple values—Courage, Excellence, Equity, and Joy'.
The book pays homage to Bourla's so-called 'visionary leadership' during the 'most unprecedented circumstances' and promises leadership lessons to help readers tackle 'their own seemingly unsolvable problems.'
'I am sharing the story of our moonshot - the challenges we faced, the lessons we learned, and the core values that allowed us to make it happen - in hopes that it might inspire and inform your own moonshot, whatever that may be,' Bourla said in a statement about the book.
Pfizer became the first company to have its two-dose shot authorized for emergency use by the FDA in December.
Trials found that the vaccine, developed in partnership with the German frim BioNTech, was 95 percent effective against the virus.
Days later, the FDA approved a two-dose vaccine by Moderna and, in February, a one-dose vaccine by Johnson & Johnson.
This Monday, the FDA approved the vaccine to be given to children aged 12 to 15.
Bourla has already profited nicely from the pandemic and Pfizer's victory in the vaccine race as the top boss walked away with a total pay package of $21 million in 2020.
This marked a staggering 17 percent increase from his $17.9 million package in 2019, before the virus started ravaging America.
His total package includes salary, bonus, stock and other incentive pay.
Pfizer was first to get FDA approval for its vaccine in December with its two-dose vaccine
Pfizer revealed last week it had made $3.46 billion in first-quarter vaccine sales.
Meanwhile, the 59-year-old's profile has also soared as he has increasingly become the public face of the company over the last year.
But, Bourla has also been mired in controversy.
Last week, he pushed back against Joe Biden's proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
The president had said he supported waiving intellectual property protections to allow poorer countries hard hit by the virus to produce vaccines.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had also waded into the issue, penning an open letter to vaccine makers calling on them to agree to the move to help developing countries in their response to the pandemic.
Such a move would likely slash the profits of Pfizer and fellow vaccine makers.
Bourla blasted the idea as 'so wrong', saying it would punish the firm for its progress and discourage biotech companies from creating treatments and innoculations for future pandemics.
He also claimed it would spark a race for raw materials that would threaten the safe and efficient production of the shots.
'Currently, infrastructure is not the bottleneck for us manufacturing faster,' Bourla wrote in a letter posted on LinkedIn.
'The restriction is the scarcity of highly specialized raw materials needed to produce our vaccine.'
Back in December, when the vaccine was first approved, Bourla also sparked some concern when he said he had not taken the shot.
The CEO said he didn't want to be held up as an example of 'cutting the line.'
'I don't want to have an example that I'm cutting the line. I'm 59 years old in good health, I'm not working in the front line,' he told CNBC at the time.
'And so, my type is not recommended to get vaccination now. So that's one consideration.'
Bourla, however, also admitted that he was aware that it would increase confidence in the vaccine if the CEO were to take it.
'On the other hand, our company ran a lot of polls to see what would take people to believe it,' he said.
'And one of the highest ranking – even higher than if Joe Biden takes it, even higher than if the other presidents take it, is if the CEO of the company takes it.'
Bourla's wife Myriam, then 48, echoed this in February saying she had not had the vaccine because 'it's not her turn yet.'
Bourla waited his turn and told Axios in March he had then received the first dose and was feeling 'liberated.'
At the time, people age 65 and older, front line workers, teachers, essential workers at places like grocery stores and taxi drivers, and people 16 or older with comorbidities or underlying conditions, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or pregnancy were eligible for the vaccine in New York, where he lives.
It was not clear what eligibility the 59-year-old fell into then.
Bourla has worked at Pfizer for more than 25 years, joining the company in 1993 before rising up the ranks to take the helm as CEO in January 2019.
Bourla's move to cash in on the virus that has so far killed more than 582,000 Americans comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured) has repeatedly come under fire for his own book about the pandemic
Prior to this he was the company's COO from January 2018, and before that held various senior leadership roles including as group president of Pfizer Innovative Health, group president of Pfizer's Global Vaccines, Oncology, and Consumer Healthcare business and president and general manager of Pfizer's Established Products business.
The Greek native trained as a vet and earned a PhD in the Biotechnology of Reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University.
Cuomo's memoir 'American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic'
His parents were among just 2,000 Holocaust survivors from a community of 50,000 in Thessaloniki, Greece.
He is married with two children - a daughter and a son - and now lives in Scarsdale, New York.
Bourla's move to cash in on the virus that has so far killed more than 582,000 Americans comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly come under fire for his own book about the pandemic.
Cuomo was paid more than $4 million by publisher Crown for his controversial memoir 'American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic'.
The governor released his book on October 13, boasting about his own leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, despite the pandemic being far from over and at a time when his office appears to have been engaged in a deliberate coverup of the state's COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Cuomo began writing the book in June and July.
The state health department released its report into COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes on July 6.
It transpired this year that the report had grossly undercounted the deaths with Cuomo's office altering the 9,844 death toll detailed in the first draft to release a lower number of 6,432 to the public.