Covid-19: should the secrecy of vaccine contracts be lifted?



After the 90% of the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance, the 94.5% of Moderna. Among the eleven vaccine projects against Covid-19 that have entered phase 3 of the trial, the last before approval, laboratories are competing with press releases showing the best rate of effectiveness against SARS-Cov-2.

If the French boss of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, regretted, on November 17, the “Late taken” in its discussions with the European Commission, Brussels has already signed five contracts for pre-ordering potential doses, on behalf of the “27”, with AstraZenaca, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-GSK, CureVac and Pfizer / BioNTech.

→ EXPLANATION. Covid vaccine, the battle for doses

The names of the contractors and a vague estimate of the number of vaccines (more than 1.5 billion pre-ordered doses): this is all that filters, today, agreements involving several billion euros of public money.

Clauses accessible to everyone

Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in the European Parliament, Pascal Canfin requested, on 22 October, from the European Commissioner for Health, Stélla Kyriakídou, that the public four elements of each contract, concluded with the pharmaceutical industry: cost structure and price; the place of production; the intellectual property regime; the liability regime.

The MEP was only offered the right to consult said contracts in a ” reading room “, without being able to take any notes and being held to confidentiality. “What we want is for these clauses to be accessible to everyone and not just a few happy few”, repeats Pascal Canfin, specifying that the ministers Agnès Pannier-Runacher (industry) and Olivier Véran (health) are “Very aligned with [s] your requests ”.

A prerequisite for ” trust “ citizens

The former head of WWF France sees in the disclosure of these extracts, “Which do not fall under industrial secrecy”, a prerequisite for ” trust “ citizens in the future vaccination policy. “We are faced with conspiracy theories, lies, and I, vis-à-vis that, I am helpless, admits the chosen one. I have no basis to explain that what they say is false. “

“You have to be sure that this whole procedure [de négociation] took place correctly to limit the risk of citizens’ suspicion ”, abounds Patrick Biecheler, responsible for the health pharmacy sector at the Roland Berger consulting firm. This ex-marketing manager at AstraZeneca does not see “Nothing sad” in the requests of Pascal Canfin, which he considers in the “Good mix of information” : “Deliver enough to do the work of teaching and to give citizens confidence. But without going into the micro-details which will bring nothing and could fuel the plots. “

Access to test protocols

Even if the European Commission would accede to the requests of Pascal Canfin and his supporters, it would then have to convince the laboratories to partially violate the confidentiality agreement that binds them. The MEP does not doubt the “Weight” Union to obtain such a derogation from companies: “We are betting that, if the European Commission asks to make these four elements public, then the pressure will be maximum on the labs and we will win our case. “

→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: how France is preparing its vaccination strategy?

Transparency “Essential”, pleads Pauline Londeix. The co-founder of the Observatory for transparency in drug policies would enrich Pascal Canfin’s request with a few complaints, such as access, long before the marketing authorization, to the test protocols that the manufacturers praise. the results. “We need them now to think about the future range of vaccines, their effectiveness sometimes varying according to the target population, explains Pauline Londeix. It is essential for a real vaccination strategy. In the meantime, we leave our policy dictated by corporate press releases. “

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