BELGIUM- The 2022 Genesis Prize was awarded to Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, for his “leadership, determination, and most importantly, his willingness to embrace some significant risks” in developing a coronavirus vaccine in record time.
Individuals are recognized for their contributions to humanity and commitment to Jewish values by the Genesis Foundation.
200,000 people across 71 countries voted for Bourla in an online campaign. $1 million was awarded.
In contrast to other CEOs working on COVID-19 vaccines, Bourla declined billions of dollars in federal subsidies to streamline production and avoid government bureaucracies, Genesis said.
Dr. Bourla is a personification of two characteristics that are the foundation of Jewish values: “commitment to life” and “commitment to repairing the world.”
“Even though the pandemic is far from over, millions of people are still alive and healthy as a result of what the Pfizer team and Dr. Bourla have done,” Genesis Prize Foundation Chairman Stan Polovets stated in a statement.
As part of his acceptance statement, Bourla emphatically expressed his gratitude to all the colleagues at Pfizer “who answered the urgent call of history during these past two years and bent the arc of our common destiny together”.
As an indigenous Thessalonian, Bourla has a deep affinity for the Jewish culture. He came from a Jewish community of 50,000 that was almost destroyed by the Nazis. His parents were among only 2,000 survivors.
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”.
“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,” Bourla said.
This is the ninth laureate of the Genesis Prize. Among other recipients are filmmaker and philanthropist Steven Spielberg, Oscar-winning actress and social activist Natalie Portman, human rights activist Natan Sharansky, and former New York City mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg.
All previous laureates have donated their monetary awards to philanthropic causes.
The Genesis Prize will be presented to Bourla by Israeli President Isaac Herzog at a ceremony in Jerusalem in June 2022.
The Genesis Prize Foundation recognized the contribution of numerous Jewish scientists, doctors, and health officials who saved lives during the Coronavirus pandemic among others.