BRAZIL – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro recently took Pfizer to task over the pharmaceutical company’s insistence of including a clause in a contract with the Southern American country to supply it with a COVID-19 vaccine that would shield it from liability from possible side effects associated with the jab.
Essentially, Pfizer has been accused by some of ransoming Brazil to accept the deal, reportedly signed in March and valued at $1 billion; at that time, Brazilian officials had agreed that a “liability waiver be signed for any possible side-effects of the vaccine, exempting Pfizer from any civil liability for serious side-effects arising from the use of the vaccine, indefinitely.”
President Bolsonaro, in a press conference addressing the issue with Pfizer, stated that he would not mandate or even recommend the vaccine to Brazilians – or even take it himself – while Pfizer refuses to take responsibility for the possible side effects of their vaccine.
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“Once the vaccine is certified by the Anvisa [the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency], it will be made available to everyone,” he said. “And the ones who won’t take it? I won’t. To the idiot who is saying I am setting a terrible example, I already had the virus, I already have antibodies. Why would I take the vaccine?”
“And something else that needs to be crystal clear here, over there at Pfizer,” Bolsonaro continued. “It’s really clear in the contract. ‘We don’t take responsibility for any side effects.’ If you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem. If you become superhuman, if a woman starts to grow a beard or a man starts to speak with an effeminate voice, they don’t have anything to do with it, which is even worse. To mess with people’s immune system. How can you make someone take a vaccine that hasn’t concluded its Phase 3 yet, that is still experimental?”
Liability clauses such as these are common in contracts with countries and pharmaceutical companies, and this stipulation went largely unnoticed until the contract was leaked on Brazil’s health ministry website in April – only to be quickly removed – and later tweeted by a French lawyer in August, as which time the contract gained media exposure.
“Purchaser hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Pfizer, BioNTech, [and] each of their affiliates…from and against any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, losses, damages, liabilities, settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses…caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the vaccine,” the contract says.
The contract also disallows any penalties against Pfizer for late delivery of their vaccine; in addition, the company reportedly demanded that Brazil put up “sovereign assets” as a security deposit, leading critics of the company, such as self-described “democratic social justice organization” Global Justice Now, to cry foul.
“Pfizer is all too happy to cash in on publicly funded coronavirus vaccines, but doesn’t want to take on any of the risk,” said the organization’s campaigns officer, Alena Ivanova. “It’s an all too familiar move from pharmaceutical companies that seem more interested in protecting their profits than protecting the public.”
As reported in a previous story, according to Dr. Robert W. Malone, a virologist, and inventor of mRNA vaccines, and Dr. Paul E. Alexander, former Trump administration official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the recent FDA approval for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine did not remove the liability shield regarding adverse side effects that the general public likely expects with a “fully authorized” FDA approval.