Israel’s Genesis Foundation on Wednesday named Dr. Albert Bourla, the Greek CEO of pharmaceutical giant and Covid-10 vaccine developer Pfizer, as the laureate of its annual Genesis Prize, hailing him as a “bright star in the constellation of outstanding Jewish scientists and doctors at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.”
In an announcement, the Genesis Foundation said its committee “commended Dr. Bourla for his leadership, determination, and especially for his willingness to assume great risks.”
“Unlike CEOs of most other major companies working on developing Covid-19 vaccines, Dr. Bourla declined billions of dollars in US federal subsidies in order to avoid government bureaucracy and expedite development and production of the vaccine. As a result, Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was ready in record time: months instead of years,” it said.
Responding to his being named this year’s honoree of the prestigious award, Bourla said “I did not set out to live a public life, and I never could have imagined that I might one day receive the profound honor of the Genesis Prize and stand alongside my extraordinary fellow nominees.
“I accept it humbly and on behalf of all my Pfizer colleagues who answered the urgent call of history these past two years and together bent the arc of our common destiny,” he said.
“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. I look forward to being in Jerusalem to accept this honor in person, which symbolizes the triumph of science and a great hope for our future,” added Bourla, who was born in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
His parents were among some 2,000 survivors out of a once-thriving community of 50,000 that was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis.
“This is a very proud moment, not just for Dr. Bourla, but for the entire Jewish community. A people so small in number are having such an outsized impact on this global effort to save lives,” said Genesis Prize Chairman Stan Polovets.
“Dr. Bourla is 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 honor our heritage,” he added.
The Genesis Prize “honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values,” according to the foundation.
The award will be presented by Israeli President Isaac Herzog at a ceremony in Jerusalem planned for June 29, making Bourla the ninth Genesis Prize laureate. He follows filmmaker and philanthropist Steven Spielberg, who was awarded in 2021, and legendary human rights activist Natan Sharansky, the 2020 laureate.