Messages between the head of the EC and the head of Pfizer regarding vaccines are being resolved by the main European prosecutor


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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has begun investigating allegations related to negotiations between the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Albert Bourla, on vaccines against covid-19.

This was reported by the Brussels server Politico with reference to the spokesperson of the prosecutor’s office in Liège, Belgium.

Investigators from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office took over the case in recent months from Belgian prosecutors, who were investigating von der Leyen for “interference with public functions, destruction of text messages, corruption and conflict of interest,” according to legal documents seen by Politico.

The EPPO, which has strong investigative powers, has previously revealed that it is investigating the purchase of vaccines, but has never commented on whether it is also investigating the head of the European Commission. No one has yet been charged in connection with the case.

In response to a direct question posed by Politico about the missing text messages, von der Leyen said that “everything necessary for this has been said and exchanged. And we will wait for the results.”

Questions about vaccines

Questions surrounding how the contract with Pfizer was negotiated have dogged the head of the European Commission since more than a year ago The New York Times (NYT) reported that she exchanged messages with the head of the pharmaceutical firm during the preparation of the giant contract in May 2021. The vaccine was ordered by the EU for hundreds of millions from Pfizer, and the pair called and exchanged messages for about a month, according to the NYT, with that “personal diplomacy playing a big role in the deal.”

The case was initially investigated by Belgian authorities in Liège in early 2023 following a criminal complaint filed by local lobbyist Frédéric Baldan. It was later joined by the Hungarian and Polish governments, but Poland withdrew its complaint last year after a pro-European government led by Donald Tusk was formed in the country after the elections, a Polish government spokesman said.

Pfizergate costing 500 billion

Baldan’s criminal complaint concerned precisely the alleged exchange of text messages between von der Leyen and Bourla in the period before the vaccine contract was concluded; the affair was named Pfizergate. The vaccines were supposed to be worth over 20 billion euros (CZK 505.5 billion). According to the Brussels media, the fact that the main European prosecutor has begun to deal with the investigation may mean a complication for the head of the EC in her efforts to obtain a second mandate at the head of the EU executive after the EP elections.

Last December, the Politico server, referring to its own analysis, wrote that EU countries threw away at least 215 million doses of vaccines against the covid-19 disease, which cost taxpayers roughly four billion euros (over CZK 98 billion).

Many of these vaccines were purchased at the height of the pandemic in 2021, just as the EU signed its largest single contract to buy 1.1 billion doses from Pfizer/BioNTech.

In this context, the server noted that it is easy to forget how uncertain the situation was in 2021, when the vaccine deal was touted. According to him, however, its size and timing proved to be problematic. Countries were tied to buying doses even as the pandemic receded, while efforts to donate surplus injections to third countries were thwarted by falling demand and logistical problems.

The EPPO conducts pan-European investigations into financial crimes and can theoretically seize phones and other relevant materials from the offices of the European Commission or in other countries, such as von der Leyen’s native Germany, noted Politico. The commission has so far refused to confirm the existence of the text messages or reveal their content.

The Hungarian government did not respond to a request for comment, and Pfizer and the EPPO declined to comment on the case, Politico added.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Messages Pfizer vaccines resolved main European prosecutor


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