Novak Djokovic’s victorious return to the US Open this year was heralded as the triumph of an “ageless” athlete. His “greatness”, The Guardian reported, “has been defined by his ability to rise from difficult losses stronger than before”. But for the pharmaceutical giant Moderna, it came as something of a blow.
“Djokovic Crowned Anti-vaccine Hero after US Open Win,” howled the title of an internal report. It continued: “The optics of Djokovic, whose vaccine opposition barred him from competing in the 2022 US Open, returning to and winning the Moderna-sponsored competition bolsters anti-vaccine claims that vaccines — and mandates — are unnecessary.”
The report rated news surrounding Djokovic as “high-risk”, noting that “vaccine opponents are celebrating” the tennis champion and that some on social media “mockingly point out that Moderna is a US Open sponsor”. Other alerts, produced by a partnership blending marketing executives with former FBI and Secret Service analysts, also cited concerns around drug industry profits as a source of misinformation.