Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, has been awarded the 2022 Genesis Prize for his “leadership, determination and especially for his willingness to assume great risks” in developing a coronavirus vaccine in record time.
The Genesis Foundation recognises individuals for their contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.
Bourla received the largest number of votes in an online campaign in which 200,000 people in 71 countries participated. The award comes with a $1m prize.
Unlike other CEOs working to develop COVID-19 vaccines, Bourla declined billions of dollars in United States federal subsidies in order to avoid government bureaucracy and speed up production of the vaccine, a statement from Genesis said.
“Dr. Bourla personifies two of the most fundamental Jewish values: the commitment to the sanctity of life and to repairing the world. And while the pandemic is far from over, millions of people are alive and healthy because of what Dr. Bourla and his team at Pfizer have accomplished,” said Genesis Prize Foundation Chairman Stan Polovets in a statement.
Bourla said in a statement that he is accepting the award on behalf of all his Pfizer colleagues “who answered the urgent call of history these past two years and together bent the arc of our common destiny”.
Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, Bourla has a personal connection to Jewish heritage. His parents were among only 2,000 survivors of an ancient Jewish community of 50,000, almost completely wiped out by the Nazis.
He wrote on Twitter that the $1m prize is being donated to “the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki — in memory of my parents, the values of life and community that they passed on to me and in remembrance of the Holocaust in Greece”.
He has donated the $1m prize award to “the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki — in memory of my parents, the values of life and community that they passed on to me and in remembrance of the Holocaust in Greece”, Bourla wrote on Twitter.