Israel was the lab for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, as newly reelected President Benjamin Netanyahu admitted in a recent interview with Jordan Peterson. Yet the health ministry now claims to have mislaid or, even worse, never signed the vaccine agreement.
As regular readers know from my numerous articles on this topic (here, here, here and here), the European Commission’s acquisition of 4.6 billion COVID-19 vaccines, to the tune of some seventy-odd billion euros, has been beset by a litany of procedural irregularities and alleged misconduct. Those purchases are now the subject of an investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
The EPPO has not named which particular vaccine contracts are under investigation, but two other watchdog agencies — the EU ombudsman and the EU court of auditors — have heaped opprobrium on one particular deal involving direct negotiations between Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Signed in 2021, it was the biggest vaccine procurement deal the Commission has ever signed — for up to 1.8 billion doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, worth up to €35 billion, according to leaked vaccine prices.
In April 2021, the New York Times reported that the negotiations that sealed the deal were conducted via phone and text messages between VdL and Bourla. None of those communications have been made public. In fact, they appear to have been “lost” or destroyed. When MEPs and the EU’s ombudsman Emily O’Reilly asked VdL to disclose the content of those messages, she straight up refused. Likewise, when the EU court of auditors asked the Commission to provide basic information on the preliminary negotiations, “none was forthcoming.”
When Bourla was invited to give testimony to a European Parliament special committee, he declined the offer — not once, but twice! Just over a month ago, the Pfizer CEO was reprimanded by the UK’s pharmaceutical industry watchdog, the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), for misleading the public, making unsubstantiated claims, and by failing to present information in a factual and balanced way.
It is probably no coincidence that this is all happening at the same time that evidence is stacking up showing that many of the COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer BioNTech’s, are not nearly as effective or as safe as we were initially led to believe. As IM Doc noted in a comment this week, one new study from Cleveland suggests that “the more you are boosted, the more likely you are to become infected with COVID. It is a perfect straight line graph.” The dam, he added, appears to breaking on what you can and cannot say regarding the vaccines.
Meanwhile, in Australia the former Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Kerryn Phelps has broken her silence on her “devastating” vaccine injury, lambasting regulators for “censoring” public discussion with “threats” to doctors.
Yet some vaccine manufacturers continue to hike the prices of their vaccines even as public demand for those vaccines slumps. Pfizer BioNTech recently announced plans to charge $110 to $130 for their COVID-19 vaccine dose in the US, almost quadrupling the current price. Even Forbes magazine was dumbstruck, saying that the move “speaks volumes about US healthcare.”
“We Searched Everywhere…”
In recent months, the conduct of both the EU Commission and Pfizer have presented a clear pattern of deception and obfuscation. And that pattern is now spreading beyond the EU’s borders.
Last week, the Israeli government took a leaf out of the EU’s playbook. In fact, it took the art of pathological excuse-making to a whole new level by claiming in court, apparently with a straight face, that it is unable to locate its COVID-19 vaccine agreement with Pfizer. It even suggested that the agreement may never have been signed, as the French edition of Israel-based international news broadcaster i24 News reports (machine translated):
The Israeli Ministry of Health claimed in court that it was unable to locate the agreement signed with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer regarding the sharing of epidemiological information on coronavirus vaccines, and even stated that it did not know if the agreement had been signed…
In a petition currently pending in the Jerusalem District Court, the Health Ministry has admitted that, despite an extensive search, the vaccine agreement signed with Pfizer has not been located. “We have not found a signed agreement,” said lawyer Ahava Berman of the prosecutor’s office, on behalf of the Ministry of Health. “We searched everywhere, including the Director General’s office and the legal department.”
This latest iteration of “my dog ate my homework” excuse is particularly galling given that Tel Aviv has developed arguably the closest partnership of all national governments with Pfizer. In order to receive priority vaccines from the Pfizer-BioNtech laboratories, it had agreed to give Pfizer regular updates of epidemiological data on its entire population, without consulting the population.
Unsurprisingly, that didn’t go down very well with certain members of the Israeli public. In response a blossoming outcry, the Israeli government made the agreement public in January 2021. But as with the EU’s COVID-19 vaccine agreements, huge sections of the text were redacted. The agreement had left spaces for signatures from the Health Ministry Director General as well as an executive from Pfizer whose name was blacked out. According to the MoH, the original copy may never have been signed.
Israel: A Medical Data Goldmine
Israeli citizens had — and still have — every reason to be up in arms about the Real World Epidemiological Evidence Collaboration Agreement its government signed (or purportedly didn’t sign) with Pfizer. The MoH had essentially committed to vaccinate Israel’s entire seven-million strong adult population as well as provide Pfizer with weekly medical data on all 9.3 million of its citizens as part of a 24-month surveillance follow-up study.
In doing so, it appears to have disregarded potential serious health risks from what was clearly an experimental medical product. Israel was also the first so-called “liberal democracy” to roll out a vaccine passport — the so-called “Green Pass” (coincidentally the same name as the EU’s vaccine passport) — to strongly encourage (to put it lightly) adult citizens to take the vaccine. And it worked rather well, at least to begin with: more than six million of Israel’s seven million adults have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Israel is almost the perfect setting for an epidemiological study of this size and scale. Like the UK, it has centralized, cradle-to-grave medical records for almost all of its citizens. And those records, including vaccination data, are fully digitized. Like the NHS’s health data, this massive, centralized trove of health data is highly coveted by pharmaceutical companies, tech giants and insurance firms.
The system also helped Israel administer more than 2 million doses of the vaccine in under a month while giving Pfizer access to granular, supposedly anonymized data showing how well (or badly) its “vaccine” was faring.
This was recently acknowledged by then- (and now again) Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu himself. In a shamelessly fawning interview earlier this month by Canadian clinical psychologist and media personality Jordan Peterson (here is the link but a word of caution: it is not for the faint of heart), Netanyahu breezily explained how, in his conversations with Bourla, he had offered up Israel as a laboratory for Pfizer to tinker around in. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the relevant segment of the interview appears to have been removed from the video uploaded onto Peterson’s YouTube channel, but a short clip has been doing the rounds on Twitter.
Straight from Netanyahu’s month:
I said [to Bourla] we’ll use [Israel’s medical data base] to tell you whether these vaccines (sic), what they do to people, not individual people with individual identities, but statistically. What does it do to people with meningitis? What does it do to people with high blood pressure? You want to know that.
So, Israel became, if you will, a lab for Pfizer. So that’s how we did it.
The above is corroborated by remarks made by Bourla in an interview with Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 news in March 2021. In that interview Bourla said it is “very appropriate for humanity” that one country be chosen as a testing ground for the efficacy (and presumably also safety) of Pfizer’s vaccine:
“I was talking with several heads of state. I spoke with your prime minister, he convinced me that Israel is the place with the right conditions. I was impressed, frankly, with the obsession of your prime minister. He called me 30 times.”
Bourla’s chief scientific officer, Philip Dormitzer, made similar remarks in September 2021, telling a Zoom gathering of academics that Israel was “sort of a laboratory” that allowed the company to examine the effects of its COVID-19 vaccine. Israel “immunized a very high proportion of the population very early—so it’s been a way that we can almost look ahead: What we see happening in Israel happens again in the U.S. a couple months later.”
For instance, Israel was the first rich, highly vaccinated country to begin seeing ever increasing numbers of what were then termed “breakthrough cases” during the Delta wave of the summer of 2021.
Next Up: Israelis’ Genetic Data
Now, back to the interview with Jordan Peterson, which contains another dark admission from Netanyahu. Israel, he said, will soon be sharing even more sensitive data with pharmaceutical companies, both domestic and foreign:
I intend to bring onto that [data]base of personal medical records for our entire population a genetic database, genomes, okay? Give me a saliva sample. A volunteer, I’m sure most people would do it. Maybe we’ll pay them. Now we have a genetic record on a medical record of a robust population… This is a very powerful engine.
Now let pharma companies, let medical companies, let them run algorithms on this database, okay. I’m telling you now we’ll give preference for a few years to Israeli firms. And then to the world. But you can create a biotechnological industry that is unheard of right now, unimagined (sic) even.
This is not a new project or development Netanyahu is describing. In 2015, almost eight years ago, Israel disclosed plans to create a population-scale database of linked genetic and clinical records. In 2018, The MoH unveiled plans to sequence over 100000 patients’ genomes by 2023 as part of its Mosaic Project. The potential dividends for Israeli companies could be huge as Israel positions itself to become a leader in digital health and biotechnology, just as it has in the global cybersecurity sector.
“It’s potentially bigger than cybersecurity, which is a huge area. It’s bigger than transportation, a huge area as well. This area of digital health is estimated at six trillion dollars,” Netanyahu said in March 2018. “Let’s assume that we get 10% real market out of this potential – [which] in my opinion, is a conservative estimate – that’s a $600 billion market.”
And that is what this is mostly about: money. Money for Israeli start-ups as well as global pharmaceuticals like Pfizer. Of course, medical insurance firms would also love to get their hands on the genetic data of their policy holders. Granted, genetic sequencing has the potential to unleash huge benefits in medical science. But to whom will those benefits accrue: everyday patients to whom the data belongs (or at least should belong) or large, well-connected companies in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, insurance and tech industries? (I’ll let you answer that question)
As recent developments in Israel, the EU and the UK regarding vaccine contracts and patient data have shown, there is virtually no transparency, accountability or even a facade of public consultation in these processes. There also appears to be next to no consideration of basic medical ethics.