N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been suspected of a conflict of interest for years. In March 2021 she made, without consulting the commission, a dubious deal with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla through private negotiations. She, on her own, purchased 1,8 billion corona vaccines. This was far too many, many had to be thrown away or donated. A total of around 35 billion euros would have been involved in the deal.
At least 215 million vaccines, worth 4 billion euros, have been thrown away, unused by EU member states, according to calculations by Politico. The member states are stuck with strangulation contracts. They must continue to buy Pfizer’s vaccines until 2027, otherwise Pfizer will file a lawsuit against them. This is currently happening with Hungary and Poland.
Von der Leyen refuses to give any transparency about the deal. That is why she has been reprimanded several times by EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly. For instance, an investigation, launched in January 2022, unveiled that all Von der Leyen’s possible relevant text messages disappeared from her phone.
The European Court of Auditors also wants clarification, but has never received it. Meanwhile, the majority of the European Parliament does not want the contracts with Pfizer to be revealed. This leaves the Pfizer contract, which involved 35 billion euros and 1.8 billion vaccines under lock and key.
Ursula von der Leyen can breathe a sigh of relief…