Days after Pfizer executive Janine Small confessed to the European Parliament that the pharmaceutical giant had not tested whether its COVID-19 vaccine prevented the transmission of the virus, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has launched an investigation into the EU Commission’s shadowy purchase of 4.5 billion doses of the vaccine.
“The European Public Prosecutors’ Office confirms that it is investigating the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines in the European Union…due to the extremely high level of public interest,” the agency confirmed in public statement on Friday, the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports.
In the midst of the pandemic, the EU Commission, headed by Ursula von der Leyen (EPP), had negotiated the bloc’s largest contract for COVID-19 vaccines (1.8 billion doses) with BioNTech-Pfizer—a contract volume that had been estimated at approximately 35 billion euros. In April of 2021, following the deal, von der Leyen revealed to the New York Times that personal communications between her and Pfizer chief Albert Bourla, which still remain hidden from public, were critical for the two parties—the EU and the pharmaceutical company—coming to an agreement.
As The European Conservative reported at the time:
The 1.8 billion doses, which initially were expected to cost €15.50 per unit, instead ended up being substantially more expensive, at €19.50 per unit, prompting a great many people to suspect corruption at the highest level had indeed taken place.
Months later, after a request for access to the text messages had been submitted—and was subsequently denied by the European Commission—European Union Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly looked into the matter more deeply, and later concluded that von der Leyen’s refusal to disclose the incriminating text messages constituted a clear cut “case of maladministration.”
Ursula von der Leyen’s behavior “does not meet the expectations of transparency and administrative standards within the Commission,” O’Reilly said, adding that the text messages “fall within the framework of European legislation on public access to documents” and “the public can have access to them if they concern the work of the institution.
Many prominent politicians, journalists, other officials, and watchdog groups have suggested that von der Leyen herself personally benefited from from the deal.
The Corporate Europe Observatory, an NGO that examines the relationship between European politicians and lobbies, has sharply criticized von der Leyen’s questionable behavior, with its spokesman Hans van Scharen saying that in 25 years the European Commission has “never reached such a level of opacity as we are currently seeing with the pharmaceutical companies.”
In the wake of the highly unsettling revelations, 36 MEPs from the ID, ECR, Green, Left, and unaffiliated parliamentary groups called for von der Leyen’s immediate resignation. Some accused her of playing a central role in a “gigantic COVID-19 scientific fraud.”
The EU Commission has continued to refuse journalists access to the text messages in questions. At the same time, the executive body has failed to provide any information regarding the transaction to the European Court of Auditors.
Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić has been among the loudest voices in the European Parliament to condemn the von der Leyen’s shadowy dealings with the pharmaceutical company. In a video posted to Twitter last Wednesday, Kolakušić suggested that the “purchase of 4.5 billion vaccine doses for 450 million EU citizens is the biggest corruption scandal in human history.”
Continuing, Kolakusic said:
Today, 10 of us MEPs asked her the following question: When will [von der Leyen] present to us, the members of the European Parliament, as well as the EU citizens whom she supposedly represents, the communication she had with Pfizer during the procurement of 4.5 billion doses of vaccines at a time when there was absolutely no proof of the effectiveness, and especially not of the harmfulness of that product.
Based on that calculation, each child, newly born, should receive ten doses of something that no one in the world except maybe two or three people, knows what it contains. This is about secrets, protected patents. Don’t think that any kind of government or European agency knows exactly what is in that product. Nobody knows that. And nobody tells you that.
They approved that vaccine, that pharmaceutical product, just based on statements of the pharmaceutical companies. They did not get to see any medical research. To date, no medical research has been handed over to the members of the EU Parliament’s COVID committee or the European Medical Agency, to anyone. How is that possible?
We are talking about corruption here. The procurement of 4.5 billion products with the intention of injecting them into people, without anyone knowing what is inside, is surely the corruption affair in the history of mankind, not only in the history of the EU.
The EPPO has refused to provide the public with any further details concerning its investigation into the matter.