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Albert Bourla, a veterinarian from Von der Leyen

2024-03-30 09:51:58

SPITTING IMAGE – From anonymity to the darling of the media, the rise of Albert Bourla to become, in a few months, the “standard bearer” of the fight against COVID-19, is dazzling. But behind this rise emerges a more than nuanced portrait, even that of an opportunist whose methods sometimes flirt with the limits of ethics and morality, borderline as they say among the Anglo-Saxons. As the pandemic recedes, all that remains for this CEO is looming lawsuits, declining revenues, and a Von der Leyen whose eyeshadow is melting like her chances of being renewed grand vizier.

A good student and passionate about animals, which is needed in the labs, Albert Bourla, born Alvertos and from a Jewish family in Greece, obtained a veterinary diploma then a doctorate at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1985. He joined the Pfizer group in 1993, as a veterinary doctor and technical director of the animal division, located in Athens. His rise is meteoric. He is first responsible for Europe and Africa, then Asia and Oceania. He holds several executive roles in several divisions of the pharmaceutical group and becomes a member of several boards. After a tour of five countries and around eight cities, he went to New York to join Pfizer’s headquarters.

The underside of a finely orchestrated deception

There he will lead the “Health Innovation” activity, a department which will record revenues of $31.4 billion in 2017 with pre-tax profit of $18.3 billion. At 56, Albert Bourla, until then little known to the general public, was unanimously elected to replace Ian Read, and became executive chairman of the management committee of the pharmaceutical group. It’s 2019 and the group has just lost the patents for one of its “blockbusters” (drug that generates the most profits, Editor’s note), namely Viagra. Pfizer deplores an estimated loss of 23 billion dollars due to this public disclosure of the patents.

The challenge for Albert Bourla is twofold. Starting by doing better, or at least as well as its predecessor, at the origin of around fifty authorizations to place drugs on the market and behind a 70% increase in the dividend for its shareholders. Then find Pfizer’s new blockbuster.

The wait is short and the opportunity presents itself with the advent of the Covid epidemic. The coronavirus, which appeared in November 2019 in Wuhan, China, then spread around the world. Closing borders, confinements and the obligation to wear a mask can do nothing about it. Immunization against SARS-CoV-2, the sequenced genome of which has been published, is now considered the only way out. The race for vaccines is on.

Pfizer opts for the mRNA platform and then relies on its association with the German biotech, BioNTech. On April 9, 2020, the two partners signed a collaboration agreement concerning the co-development of a coronavirus vaccine, “the first in its category, based on mRNA technology”.

“It has to come out in October,” he told his colleagues. “And we will not need tens of millions, but hundreds of millions of doses by next year.” “It was impossible,” he likes to say. “But it had to be done!”

The Lightspeed project is launched and in early November, the results of the vaccine trial appear. The data is transmitted to regulatory authorities in several countries around the world. The United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, the EU and the WHO are one after the other approving the vaccine. “The weeks and months that followed [fin 2020, début 2021]our vaccine against Covid-19 was approved and distributed in more than a hundred countries,” writes Albert Bourla.

Here is the one who “achieved the impossible”, namely offering a “vaccine” nine months after the start of the pandemic, headlines the press. As a good opportunist, the CEO of Pfizer sells $5.6 million worth of action, the same day as the announcement of the 94% “reliability” of the vaccine. An operation deemed “unethical” which arouses indignation and controversy.

In the meantime, his position at Pfizer gives him a visibility that few people can boast of having, like a certain Klaus Schwab, whose Davos Forum counts Albert Bourla among his regulars. He blows hot and cold on epidemiological forecasts, wins awards for the best CEO, increases lobbying and to sell off the stock of syringes, now addresses “billions of people, millions of companies and hundreds of governments around the world who are pinning their hopes on a safe and effective vaccine.”

Credits: ARA

A crumbling epic

“At the start of the crisis, we set our annual target at 200 million doses. This figure quickly rose to 500 million. Then I asked: ‘Why not a billion?’ Once this objective is achieved, why not more? At the start of 2021, we publicly committed to manufacturing 2.5 billion doses before the end of the year,” he says in his book. The objective is clear: this unbridled approval in more than a hundred countries naturally leads to control of the world market, even to monopoly. And Pfizer is succeeding. The American company’s revenue jumped 95% in 2021, to $81.3 billion, and its net profit more than doubled, to $22 billion. As for market shares, Pfizer even makes six times more than Moderna and BioNTech, particularly in the United States and the European Union (EU).

However, little is known about the contracts signed between Pfizer and several entities, including the European Commission (EC). The agreement between Ursula Von der Leyen and Albert Bourla, whose relationship is as intriguing as it is problematic, is also the subject of heated controversy, after the publication, by the New York Times in April 2021, of a article revealing that negotiations on a purchase contract for 1.8 billion doses took place, among other things, by SMS. The news had the effect of an earthquake and the EU ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, launched an investigation. This reveals that the Commission never asked members of the president’s cabinet to search for her text messages, which VDL “can no longer find”. For the Commission, these SMS messages are “by nature short-lived documents, which in principle do not contain important information relating to the Commission’s policies, activities and decisions”. An opinion which is not shared by the mediator.

Albert Bourla refused twice to appear before the European Parliament’s Special Commission on Covid-19. What does he fear? A breach of ethics, a procedural flaw or… a conflict of interest? In any case, its refusal is very poorly received, especially after the revelation that Pfizer obtained a 25% price increase on the order for May 2021. Two years later, the EC will conduct discussions with Pfizer on the sly to negotiate a reduction in the initial volume of this order, in return for another increase in the unit price of the dose, the effectiveness of which is revised downwards.

In his place, it is a certain Janine Small who is interviewed by the European Parliament. To the question of whether “Pfizer’s Covid vaccine was tested on stopping the transmission of the virus before being placed on the market”. The international markets manager immediately replied “no”.

Dismantling of a lie, autopsy of a hold-up

But Pfizer’s CEO still wants more. He then advocates vaccination of children, affirming that it is both “safe and effective” for them. However, many adolescents die after being vaccinated and studies already link the injections to negative health impacts. In the United States alone, between December 14, 2020 and November 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 9 deaths among children aged 6 months to 5 years, reported to its reporting system. Vaccine-related adverse events (VAERS), following vaccination against Covid-19. 31 deaths are reported among children aged 5 to 12 and 133 deaths among adolescents aged 12 to 18. Sweden announced shortly after that it no longer recommended vaccination for children aged 12 to 17.

The anti-COVID vaccine windfall, tainted by a complaint from Moderna for infringement of patents on mRNA, begins to deflate when a video as incredible as it is worrying is published by the media Project Veritas. Pfizer’s director of research and development, Jordon Trishton Walker, filmed without his knowledge, claims that his employer would study the possibility of mutating the coronavirus, in order to be able to create vaccines for it and continue milking the cash cow. The lab led by Bourla defends itself by claiming “not to have conducted research on the gain of function or on the directed evolution” of the virus, explaining its experiments on Sars-Cov-2, which specialists indeed qualify as a “gain of function”.

What will he bequeath, the one who has “achieved the impossible”? Floods of vaccines with often fatal side effects, lawsuits galore and the stubborn hope of generating COVID-related revenue. The lab saw its turnover fall by 42% and its share price by 43% in 2023. In the United States, the United Kingdom as in Germany, in France as in Norway, Pfizer is, like BioNTech, on the bench accused for its vaccine, its side effects and above all, the false claims about its effectiveness.
How will the one who has succeeded in seducing the president of the European Commission end up, when the time of reckoning has come?

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