Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla won’t be testifying before the European Parliament’s exclusive committee on COVID-19 later this month.
The committee was expected to grill Bourla over secretive vaccine deals struck with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The deal preceeded a multibillion-euro vaccine contract.
Earlier this year the European Commission was accused of ‘maladministration‘ for failing to publish texts messages between its president von der Leyen, and the Pfizer chief during their negotiations in the run up to the vaccine deal.
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Politico reports: The head of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, the largest dealer of COVID-19 vaccines to the EU, was scheduled to show up before the panel on October 10. The committee is assembly with key officials concerned in the EU’s vaccine procurement procedure to draw lessons on how to reply to future pandemics. Other pharmaceutical executives have addressed the committee, inclusive of the CEO of Moderna and senior officials from AstraZeneca and Sanofi.
The committee’s chair, Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, told POLITICO she “deeply regrets” the decision taken by Pfizer.
After a visit to BioNTech’s headquarters last week, Van Brempt had said in a written statement that she looked forward to discussions “with other CEOs” including “Mr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer” on October 10.
The report, by the European Court of Auditors, found that von der Leyen had been directly involved in preliminary negotiations for the EU’s biggest vaccine contract, for up to 1.8 billion doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which was concluded in May 2021. This was a departure from the negotiating procedure followed with other contracts, where a joint negotiating team made up of officials from the Commission and member countries conducted exploratory talks.
The EU watchdog also noted that the Commission refused to provide records of the discussions with Pfizer, either in the form of minutes, names of experts consulted, agreed terms, or other evidence.