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SHORT STORY: Albert Bourla-CEO Pfizer

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More than 80 years ago in Greece, sixty thousand Jews lived peacefully in the port city of Thessaloniki. They were a valued and vibrant community. Most of these Jews worked in the port, and since, they had a majority, the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday or Shabbat, the Jewish day, when religion, forbids work. The rabbis also lived and studied there, and everyone just hung out in the city, and were very fond of each other.

    But on September 2, 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, this peaceful community one day felt the terror of Nazis, when on April 6, 1941 Hitler invaded Greece, in order to secure his southern front before launching the famous ‘Operation Barbarossa’ the code name for the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany and his great offensive against Russia.

    Sadly, of the 60,000 Jews in Thessaloniki, around 50,000 Jews were exterminated at the Birkenau concentration camp. The massacre of the Jews in Greece was brief but intense. Very few could escape. Among the survivors, there was a family, known as Bourla. After the war, in 1961, a son was born into this miraculous family in the camps. His parents called him Israel – Abraham. He grew up and studied veterinary medicine in Greece. A brilliant student, Abraham got his doctorate in reproductive biotechnology at the veterinary school of Aristotle University of Salonika, also known as Thessaloniki, in Greece.

    At the age of 34, he decided to move to the United States. He changed his first name Abraham to Albert and met a Jewish woman named Miriam who then became his wife. Together they had two children.

    In the United States, Albert was absorbed in the medical industry, where he progressed very quickly and joined a pharmaceutical company and became its “Head manager.” From there, the road was short for little Abraham (Albert) to rise through the ranks to become Chief Operation Officer before obtaining his appointment as CEO of the company in 2019.

    Throughout 2020 Albert decided to direct all the efforts of the company to try and find a vaccine against the new virus which had just struck the world—Covid. He expended great financial and technological efforts to achieve his goal. A year later his work paid off and the WHO and the US government authorized his company to produce the long-awaited vaccine. Today this vaccine will be distributed in several countries including Germany, which counted thousands of deaths due to the pandemic.

    Ironically, this vaccine, which will save the lives of millions of people around the world including many Germans was led by a little Jew from Thessaloniki, son of a Holocaust survivor, whose, major part of the community was exterminated by the Nazi Germany. And that is why Israel became the first country to receive the vaccine, in the memory of his grandparents and his parents who gave birth to Israel-Abraham Bourla, today known as Albert Bourla: CEO of Pfizer. Such is the irony of destiny.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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