Global drug giant Pfizer is refusing to back Federal Government claims that the recent approach by Kevin Rudd had no influence over its alleged decision to speed up delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.
Pfizer is also refusing to say whether its statement today, which discloses the alleged new delivery timeline, was triggered by pressure from the Federal Government.
Former Prime Minister Keven Rudd, acting solely in a personal capacity, approached Pfizer’s New York-based CEO, Dr Albert Bourla, on June 30.
Rudd, who says he was acting in response to requests from business figures, asked Bourla to provide Australia with more Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, of which the country has a major shortage.
Since then, according to the Federal Government, Pfizer has said it will speed-up the delivery of some of the government’s existing Pfizer vaccine purchases.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt this afternoon pointed to a statement from Pfizer as evidence that Rudd’s request was in no way related to the drug company’s alleged decision to speed up delivery to Australia.
Yet Pfizer has not made this claim.
The extremely carefully-worded Pfizer statement says that “no third party or individual” had any role in the “contractual agreements reached between Pfizer and the Australian Government”.
It is not legally possible for Rudd to have had any role in the “contractual agreements” because he is not employed by, or in any way a legal proxy for, the Australian Government.
It is also not clear how the statement from Pfizer came to circulate today.
Pfizer has not issued the statement to its websites or posted it on any of its social media accounts across the world.
The last statement to be issued by Pfizer through any of those regular channels was Friday last week.
It related to a group of Pfizer volunteers being given “well-deserved recognition” at a New York ticker-tape parade the day before.
Pfizer Australia this afternoon confirmed to The Klaxon that today’s seven-sentence statement was genuine – and provided this reporter with a copy – but would not say who the statement had been originally issued to.
Given the statement has not been released on any of Pfizer’s official outlets or social media accounts, the statement has entered the public sphere as a result of by Pfizer issuing it to a particular entity, or entities.
Pfizer Australia declined to comment when asked by The Klaxon who it had initially made the statement to.
Pfizer Australia also declined to comment when asked whether it had made the statement in response to a request from the Australian Government.
It is not clear whether the statement is to be taken as from Pfizer head office in New York, or only from Pfizer Australia.
This afternoon we emailed Pfizer Australia asking:
“1. Is it Pfizer Australia’s position that Mr Kevin Rudd’s discussion with Dr Albert Bourla on June 30 had zero impact on Pfizer’s recent decision to bring forward the supply of some of the doses?”
Pfizer Australia did not answer that question, or six other questions, but sent us a copy of the statement that has today been circulating on the internet.
We went back to Pfizer Australia:
“Can we please also get a response to:
“Is it Pfizer Australia’s position that Mr Kevin Rudd’s discussion with Dr Albert Bourla on June 30 had zero impact on Pfizer’s recent decision to bring forward the supply of some of the doses?”
Pfizer Australia again declined to answer the question, responding:
“Please kindly refer to the statement below. We are not providing further comment.”
We went back again:
“Given the statement doesn’t say Mr Rudd’s discussion with Dr Bourla had no impact on Pfizer’s decision to bring forward the vaccine delivery timeline, and that Dr Bourla is the CEO of Pfizer, it would a fair inference that the discussion did have an impact.
Just to be clear, given that the statement is imprecise in this regard, is it the case that Pfizer’s decision to bring forward the vaccine delivery timeline was in no way impacted by Mr Rudd’s June 30 discussion with Dr Bourla?
For accuracy of reporting, especially regarding such an important matter, it is essential that we get Pfizer’s true position in this regard.”
Pfizer Australia did not respond.
The Klaxon’s questions to Pfizer Australia this afternoon.
Our emailed questions to Pfizer Australia were responded to by Rachel McWhinnie of Sydney-based, external media communications company Palin Communications.
It was not known whether Pfizer Australia engages Palin Communications on a standard basis, or whether Palin Communication’s has been brought in to handle the current high-profile fracas.
Pfizer Australia employs several in-house media specialists, two of which were cc’d in on the correspondence.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton posted the Pfizer statement to social media this afternoon. Source: Twitter
Today’s Pfizer statement says:
“All discussions on supply and procurement with the Federal Government are led by Pfizer representatives in Australia”.
It is logical that discussions between Pfizer and the Australian Government would be “led by” Pfizer’s Australian representatives.
However that in no way precludes the involvement of any other Pfizer representatives in the global company, particularly those higher up the chain of command.
It seems highly improbably that if Pfizer’s roll-out to Australia has been sped up, that Rudd’s June 30 discussion with Pfizer CEO Dr Albert Bourla did not play a role.
Certainly, given Pfizer’s corporate structure, it is entirely Dr Bourla’s ultimate decision as to whether the pre-contracted delivery is sped-up or not, should he chose to make a call.
That is, no other person or entity would be able to overrule Dr Bourla, regardless of representations made by Rudd, Pfizer Australia., or anyone else.
This afternoon’s statement from former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
In a statement this afternoon, a “spokesperson” for Rudd reiterated that Rudd’s June 30 discussion with Dr Bourla was a “personal conversation” that had been held by Rudd in a “personal capacity as a concerned private citizen”.
Further, the Rudd statement says, Pfizer’s statements in no way contradict Rudd’s position.
“Mr Rudd’s letter is entirely consistent with public statements by Pfizer,” the Rudd statement says.
A review of the all the documents shows this is correct.
The Rudd statement says: “Mr Rudd has not claimed responsibility by decisions by Pfizer and – as he made clear to Mr (Prime Minister Scott) Morrison – all negotiating powers rested with the federal government”.
The statement ends:
“Mr Rudd would definitely not seek to associate himself with the Australian Government’s comprehensively botched vaccine procurement program”.
More to come.
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