They say an agency claiming to be based in the UK contacted them via email and offered a “partnership”. Léo Grasset, who has 1.17 million YouTube subscribers, tweeted (in French) that a “colossal budget” was promised by a client “who wants to stay incognito”.
Léo Grasset published instructions from the agency, asking him not to use words such as “advertising” or “sponsored video” when agreeing to the partnership offer.
“Present the material as your own independent view,” the email read. It also asked him to spread a false claim among his supporters that the death rate among those vaccinated by Pfizer is nearly three times higher than among those who received AstraZeneca.
Et Ça Se Dit Médecin, a hospital intern with more than 85,000 Instagram followers, told French BFMTV that he was offered € 2,050 ($ 2,510; £ 1,775) for a 30-second story on his account.
Meanwhile, French Health Minister Olivier Véran told BFMTV: “I don’t know where that is [partnership offer] comes from, from France or abroad. “It’s pathetic, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible, and it doesn’t work.”
AstraZeneca, also a two-dose vaccine used in France, is made by a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company. An April European Union report said Russia and China’s state media were systematically trying to instill public distrust of vaccines against Western Covid – a claim that was rejected in Moscow.