Bureau slowly unveils ‘Leonine’ vaccine contracts – 07/05/2021 – Nelson de Sá

Next week, Covid’s CPI turns to Pfizer. The current president of the company in Brazil and his predecessor were summoned, along with ex-communications secretary Fabio Wajngarten, who confirmed to Veja that he had worked for a contract with the pharmaceutical company for months, in opposition to the former Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello.

Both left the government claiming to be victims of the clash over Pfizer – over the “famous Leonine contract clauses,” as the former secretary put it. The two are gone, the government has closed with the drug company and until today the contract is kept confidential.

But some information is coming out. The New York Times, in the editorial in which he advocated the suspension of the vaccine patent, which Joe Biden supported at the time, summed up part of it:

In the contracts, “Pfizer has not only sought to protect itself against all civil actions, even those that might result from the company’s own negligence, but has also called on governments to make available sovereign assets, including their reserves. banks, embassy buildings and military bases, as security against lawsuits. . It is understandable that some countries rejected it ”.

The NYT source is a series of Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports (with illustration above) produced and / or published in partnership with the Peruvian OjoPublicico, the South African Mail & Guardian and the American Stat, but no more wide public reach.

He focuses on negotiations with Latin American countries, citing Brazil. One of the main reports uses as the headline a statement from an “authority of a country which cannot be named because it has signed a confidentiality agreement with Pfizer”, claiming that its government has been “held hostage” until ‘to what he gives in.

The negotiating routine would be “good cop, bad cop”, a good cop alternating with a bad guy, like the television series, with “that lady in the press: buy more, people will die because of you”.

The report even quotes a “report from the Brazilian health ministry”, describing growing demands, as has also reportedly happened with Argentina. The first would be that the delivery dates could be changed.

Subsequently, the series released a full contract with the government of the Dominican Republic. And OjoPublicico separately published that 13 countries in the region have changed their laws to meet the requirements.

And when the pressure to suspend patents increased too much in April, with the crisis in India, the Bureau released the report “Pfizer waives ‘irrational’ terms in South Africa deal.” It was a reference to “the requirement that the government place sovereign assets guaranteeing compensation against the costs of future legal actions.”

The South African Minister of Health said he was relieved. “We found ourselves having to choose between saving the lives of our citizens and risking putting the country’s assets in the hands of private companies,” he said.


The Bureau then heard from Pfizer, which quotes its German partner: “Pfizer and Biontech have no intention of interfering with a country’s diplomatic, military or cultural strengths.

“Pfizer and Biontech are seeking the same type of indemnification and liability protection that they have in the United States in all countries that have requested the purchase of the vaccine, in accordance with applicable local laws. In markets lacking the legal or legislative protections available in the United States, we work with governments to find mutually acceptable solutions, including contractual indemnity clauses. “

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