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EU Opens Investigation Into COVID-19 Vaccine Deals

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The European Union prosecutor’s office has started an investigation into the union’s accession of COVID-19 vaccines as accusations of corruption and backdoor dealings among some members of the union.

The officials of the EU briefed about the investigation in a statement on Friday, affirming an “ongoing investigation into the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines in the European Union.” They also commented that the case has “extremely high public interest”. They did not share more information.

The EU’s 27 members were responsible for purchasing supplies from that centralized stock after the European Commission pre-purchased coronavirus vaccinations on their behalf.

Although the prosecutors did not reveal much about the probe, the briefing came after accusations from MEPs that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen conducted vaccine negotiations with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stealthily.

Von der Leyen’s office has come under fire for refusing to reveal private text messages made to Bourla during negotiations for roughly 2 billion vaccine doses, despite requests from media outlets, parliamentarians, and an EU watchdog.

On the basis of the commission’s statement that it could not identify any messages regarding a formal request on the matter, and meant these messages as too momentary to be able to save for the future, Emma O’Reilly, Ombudsman, stated in July, “this constituted maladministration”.

To combat the initial and future waves of the coronavirus, the commission obtained up to 4.2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Later on Friday, Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakusic brought up the fresh probe and claimed that parliamentarians’ pressure was a factor in the decision. Kolakusic has been extremely critical of the EU’s vaccine procurement procedure, stating transactions for billions of doses were tainted by “corruption” and secrecy, despite his inability to throw more light on the investigation.

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