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2nd Jul 2022

MEPs want EU Commission to reveal vaccine prices

  • Vera Jourová said not all information can be made available due to the 'highly competitive nature of the global market' (Photo: European Parliament)
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MEPs of the special parliamentary committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday (21 June) called on the commission to reveal information on vaccine prices.

"Citizens are paying for these vaccines. Should they not have the right to access the information," Maria Matias of the Left group asked EU commissioner for transparency Věra Jourová in a hearing that at times became agitated.

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Commissioner Jourová, said in response not all information can be made available due to the "highly competitive nature of the global market."

Jourová, who said she does not know the prices of the vaccines herself, told MEPs the commission is currently negotiating with vaccine-makers to allow public authorities more access.

The commission has signed agreements with BionTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

Currently, only a handful of commission negotiators know what has been paid for the vaccines.

A select group of MEPs were allowed to read the contracts to prepare for Tuesday's meeting but only had access to heavily-redacted versions that did not include prices and other crucial information relating to price negotiations between the commission and vaccine-makers.

"We could not photograph or copy the contracts. I feel very humiliated," Ivan Sinčić of the non-attached members told commissioner Jourová. "Maybe you could have given us a bottle of wine to drink while reading the contracts so we could forget them."

MEPs also said commercial pharmaceutical interest should not be allowed to supersede other interests and EU values like transparency.

In April this year a group of five EU lawmakers sued the commission to fully disclose its Covid vaccine contracts.

Danish Green lawmaker Margrete Auken, joined by Kim van Sparrentak, Tilly Metz, Jutta Paulus, and Michele Rivasi, previously stated the lawsuit was a fight for the public's right to information.

It took two years, and two Freedom of Information requests, by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory to get the relevant documents published, but many of the documents have remained heavily-redacted.

This also includes negotiations that have taken place through WhatsApp messages between commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla.

At the end of the summer, the commission and lawmakers from the special committee are expected to discuss transparency and vaccine prices with the CEO's from the pharmaceutical companies.

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