Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has bailed on an appointment to testify before the European Parliament’s special committee, where he was expected to face tough questions over secretive vaccine deals, Politico reports.
Bourla was scheduled to appear before the panel on Oct. 10, alongside key officials involved in the EUs vaccine procurement process, in order to discuss how to respond to future pandemics. According to the report, “Other pharmaceutical executives have addressed the committee, including the CEO of Moderna and senior officials from AstraZeneca and Sanofi.”
Bourla? Not so much.
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. -Politico
In early September, an audit repirt into the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy raised questions over Bourla’s relationship with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before they struck a multibillion-euro vaccine deal.
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. -Politico
In April, von der Leyen admitted that she had been texting with Bourla for a month straight while they were negotiating the massive contract. Two months later, the texts disappeared, triggering accusations of maladministration by the EU’s ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly,” Reuters reported at the time.
Bourla and von der Leyen’s cozy relationship was noted last year by the NYT, which Bourla told they had “developed a deep trust, because we got into deep discussions.”
“She knew details about the variants, she knew details about everything. So that made the discussion, way more engaged.”
And now Bourla won’t have to answer questions about it.