Pfizer Sues Poland For Bailing On COVID-19 Vaccine, Citing Shady EU Mega-Deal


In April, 2021, the world learned that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had been negotiating the biggest contract ever sealed for 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines via text messages back and forth with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

And while those texts were ‘somehow‘ lost, Pfizer is now suing Poland – which, under the EU deal struck between von der Leyen and Bourla, obligated the Polish government to purchase 60 million more doses than it did.

“Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking to hold Poland to its commitments for COVID-19 vaccine orders placed by the Polish Government, as part of their contract to supply the European Union signed in May 2021,” a Pfizer spokesperson told Politico, adding that BioNTech is joining the lawsuit.

According to Polish newspaper Gazeta Prawa, Pfizer brought the civil case before a Brussels court because the doses were purchased through EU joint procurement contracts, drawn up under Belgian law. –Politico

Poland, under the leadership of then Health Minister Adam Niedzielski and the populist PiS party, took a bold step in April 2022 by stopping vaccine deliveries, citing force majeure. This decision, influenced by both financial and epidemiological factors, echoed across Eastern and Central Europe, leading to a wave of dissent against the Commission’s deal with Pfizer.

Efforts to renegotiate the deal, prompted by the collective outcry of several EU countries, only partially assuaged the discontent. The demands for transparency and a more equitable agreement intensified, leading the Commission to revise the deal. However, Poland’s refusal to sign the revised agreement highlighted the growing fissures between EU member states and the Commission’s negotiation tactics.

Fast forward to the aftermath of Poland’s October election, which saw the opposition gain enough seats to potentially install Donald Tusk, a centrist figure, in power. Pfizer’s lawsuit, potentially amounting to €1.2 billion, presents a formidable challenge for Tusk’s administration. This move by Pfizer is not just about recouping losses but sending a stark message to other nations considering contract breaches.

The Commission was able to extract commitments from Pfizer to reschedule some deliveries, but this didn’t go far enough to appease the capitals.

As vaccination rates flatlined, countries outside the Central and Eastern European group started joining the call for a renegotiation. At one point capitals even began asking for greater transparency on the original negotiations between Pfizer and the Commission. “What was promised? We would really like to know,” said Belgian ambassador Pierre Cartuyvels in December 2022.

In May this year, the Commission quietly announced a substantial renegotiation of the offending deal. It was reducing — by an unspecified amount — the number of doses outstanding, while the deliveries would also be more spread out, into 2026. Poland, however, refused to sign up to the revised deal. -Politico

According to Polish Health Minister Katarzyna Sójka in comments to Rynek Zdrowia, this is a difficult case, but there’s a chance it can end “in a positive way.”


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