Pfizer is demanding military bases and embassies be put up as collateral. Demanding that the countries pass certain laws benefiting Pfizer over safety at public expense, even holding Pfizer immune should they act maliciously.
WION (India news):
The US-based company Pfizer is holding governments to ransom, interfering with their legislation, and even demanding military bases as guarantee.
Pfizer has been accused of “bullying” Latin American governments during negotiations to acquire its Covid-19 vaccine, and the company has asked some countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases, according to an investigation by the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The Manhattan-based pharmaceutical giant has maintained tight levels of secrecy about negotiations with governments over contracts that can determine the fate of populations. The “contracts consistently place Pfizer’s interests before public health imperatives,” said Zain Rizvi, the researcher who wrote the report.
Public Citizen found common themes across contracts, including not only secrecy but also language to block donations of Pfizer doses. Disputes are settled in secret arbitration courts, with Pfizer able to change the terms of key decisions, including delivery dates, and demand public assets as collateral.
Sharon Castillo, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said that confidentiality clauses were “standard in commercial contracts” and “intended to help build trust between the parties, as well as protect the confidential commercial information exchanged during negotiations and included in final contracts.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna, another U.S. company that developed a vaccine using breakthrough mRNA technology, are facing pressure from critics who accuse them of building a “duopoly.” Although Pfizer did not accept government funding through the vaccine development program called Operation Warp Speed, it received huge advance orders from the United States. It opposed an intellectual property waiver that could have meant the sharing of its technology.
Experts who reviewed the terms of contracts with foreign governments suggested that some demands were extreme. In contracts reached with Brazil, Chile, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, those states forfeited “immunity against precautionary seizure of any of [their] assets.”
“It’s almost as if the company would ask the United States to put the Grand Canyon as collateral,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of public health law at Georgetown University.
Public Citizen analyzed an unredacted draft agreement between the company and Albania, as well as unredacted final documents from Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru and the European Commission. Redacted documents published by Chile, the United States and Britain provide further context, though they are missing key details.
The contract reached with Brazil prohibits the government from making “any public announcement concerning the existence, subject matter or terms of [the] Agreement” or commenting on its relationship with Pfizer without the prior written consent of the company.