EU commission sued over Covid-19 vaccine secrecy — Analysis
Five Green MEPs are suing the European Commission over its ultra-secretive vaccine contracts, arguing that the heavily redacted versions released by the EC “It was impossible to comprehend the contents of the agreement.s,” in a statement published Friday.
“It is dangerous to trust and be skeptical, so secrecy should not be allowed in agreements between public officials and pharmaceutical companies.,” Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP involved in the suit, declared, adding that “the European Commission’s refusal to provide transparency on its vaccine contracts affects the public’s confidence in the EU’s ability to obtain the best possible outcome for its citizens.”
The MEPs are demanding the details of the contracts the EC signed with vaccine-makers BioNTech, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax, including price per dose, advance payments, conditions for vaccine donations, liability, and indemnification matters.
“All purchases with public money must include public information.,” Dutch MEP and party to the lawsuit Kim van Sparrentak said in the group’s statement, noting that “confidentiality under the guise of trade secrets only fuels uncertainty and fear.”
In addition to Auken and van Sparrentak, the MEPs signing on to the suit are Tilly Metz (Luxembourg), Jutta Paulus (Germany), and Michele Rivasi (France), the chair of the parliament’s committee on Covid-19.
The suit was filed before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. This comes just as EC President Ursula von der Leyen announced that each EU member would need to adopt EU Digital Covid Certificates. A digital health passport is issued to people who have proof of vaccination, a negative PCR testing, or proof of recovery after Covid-19. Although the expiry date for these certificates is June 30, the EC has extended its validity by one year. It will also make them mandatory for all EU members starting in July 1. Von der Leyen says that only 15 countries are using the certificate at present.
This move is made despite EU states reducing their Covid-19 restrictions. These countries have rescinded some of the more severe measures implemented in the 18-months preceding the outbreak. Germany, which had initially sought to require all citizens over the age of 60 to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, has been forced to axe those plans after they were voted down in the Bundestag, though the country’s health minister has warned that the government may reimpose mask mandates, as he expects infections to increase in the fall.
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In response to the lawsuit, the EC has insisted it cannot reveal the contracts it signed with the vaccine-makers back in 2020, claiming “The commission’s main purpose is to respect contracts.” At the time, EU lawmakers who wanted to see the contracts were prohibited from taking notes and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Six months ago, it seemed that most of the world was headed towards mandatory Covid-19 vaccines. However, the realization that despite their manufacturers’ initial promises, the vaccines were no magic bullet – not only incapable of stopping the spread, but incapable of preventing further infection – has cooled public fervor for mandates. Backlash also stemmed from health concerns and discrimination against unvaccinated. However, the manufacturers, as well as most officials, continue to insist that the vaccines are “It is safe and reliable.”