the contract between the CureVac laboratory and Brussels unveiled … only partially

The German laboratory is the only one to have agreed to play the game. Entire passages, especially concerning the price, remain confidential, however, deplore MEPs.

Since Tuesday, January 12, the European Commission has given MEPs access to the contract for negotiations on vaccines against Covid-19, signed with the CureVac laboratory. The German is, to date, the only one to have agreed to play the game. The other five laboratories, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-GSK, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, with which the Brussels Institution has negotiated vaccine orders in the name of the Twenty-Seven have so far refused.

In recent months, several MEPs have regretted that the European authorities do not communicate publicly about the agreements made with the laboratories for the supply of vaccines. They had repeatedly advocated in Parliament a policy of transparency to maintain the confidence of a majority of the population.

Initially, this discretion was assumed by the European Commission. Contacted by Le Figaro last December, she explained that she would not publish the contracts signed with pharmaceutical companies, above all for reasons of confidentiality and data protection. Then, to respond to certain political concerns, the Commission finally promised more transparency, by making these contracts available to MEPs, “in a secure room and leaving aside smartphones».

A partially disclosed contract

At the end of 2020, the European Commission ordered 225 million firm doses and 180 million optional doses of vaccines from CureVac, headquartered in Tübingen. The sixty-page contract, signed by the German laboratory and by the Commission, was available in an office of the Directorate-General for Health and Safety in Brussels, transformed into a reading room for the occasion. Members then had forty-five minutes to consult the document. Mobile phones banned, European elected officials had to bring a pen and a notebook in order to take notes. Time only available in Brussels, the contract was subsequently put online.

Despite this Commission’s transparency initiative, MEPs do not seem convinced, since entire parts of the document remain strictly confidential. Passages relating to the price, the places of vaccine production or even the legal liability regime to which the laboratory is subject have been deliberately rendered illegible. “Minor elements that CureVac has decided to keep confidential», Explained Sandra Gallina, the European negotiator with the laboratories, during a hearing by the European Parliament on Tuesday 12 January.

In the coming weeks, the European authorities are not expected to release more information about their discussions with the pharmaceutical industries.

Although controversial, the European privacy policy is no exception. Across the world, drug purchase contracts are almost always confidential, and companies rarely disclose commercial data. But given the unprecedented levels of investment and public interest in the development of Covid-19 vaccines, some argue that an exception must be made this time around, with more information made public.


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