Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today launched an investigation into whether Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson engaged in gain-of-function research and misled the public about doing so, and whether the companies misrepresented the efficacy of their COVID-19 vaccines, in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
He also will investigate whether the pharmaceutical giants engaged in gain-of-function research and misled the public about it, The New York Post reported.
“If any company illegally took advantage of consumers during this period or compromised people’s safety to increase their profits, they will be held responsible,” Paxton said. “If public health policy was developed on the basis of flawed or misleading research, the public must know.”
“This vested interest … combined with reports about the alarming side effects of vaccines, demands aggressive investigation,” he said.
In 2022 alone, Pfizer reaped profits of $31.4 billion on record sales of $100.3 billion. Sales from its COVID-19 vaccine and Paxlovid, used to treat COVID-19, totaled $56 billion — more than half the vaccine maker’s annual revenue.
Moderna’s Spikevax generated approximately $18.4 billion in revenue last year, up from $17.7 billion in 2021.
Johnson & Johnson’s first-quarter 2022 COVID-19 vaccine sales were only $457 million, but in 2021, its vaccine sales reached $2.4 billion.
Paxton also said that because mandates were dictated at the federal level, “This investigation into the scientific and ethical basis on which public health decisions were made is of major significance.”
As part of the investigation, Paxton will demand the three companies provide documentation related to decision-making about pandemic interventions, “especially when a profit motive or political pressure may have compromised Americans’ health and safety.”
The investigation could have implications for the immunity vaccine makers enjoy under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness, or PREP Act, for producing vaccines under Emergency Use Authorization, Kim Mack Rosenberg, acting general counsel for Children’s Health Defense, told The Defender.
“I applaud the Texas attorney general investigating fraud in connection with COVID-19 shots.
“Because these injections are covered by the PREP Act and the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), with near blanket liability protection for manufacturers and significant restrictions and limitations on recovery for injuries, evidence of fraud or willful misconduct may be an avenue to justice for the many who have been injured by these products.”
The PREP Act declaration for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 shields manufacturers of COVID-19 pandemic countermeasures, such as vaccines or treatments, from liability for injuries resulting from those countermeasures.
It funnels vaccine injury claims into the CICP program, which is meant to compensate people with vaccine or other covered countermeasure-related injuries for expenses associated with their injury.
To date, the CICP has compensated only three of the more than 10,000 claims brought for COVID-19 countermeasure injuries.
But the PREP Act does not immunize manufacturers from liability in the case of “willful misconduct.”
That means if the Texas attorney general proves the companies engaged in willful misconduct, people injured by the vaccine may have other methods beyond the CICP available to them to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.
“The catastrophic effects of the pandemic and subsequent interventions forced on our country and citizens deserve intense scrutiny, and we are pursuing any hint of wrongdoing to the fullest,” Paxton said.
Florida grand jury investigating ‘crimes and wrongdoings’ related to COVID vaccine
In December 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis petitioned for a grand jury investigation into “crimes and wrongdoing committed against Floridians related to the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“It is against the law to mislead and to misrepresent, particularly when you’re talking about the efficacy of a drug,” said DeSantis, whose petition seeks more information from pharmaceutical companies about the vaccines and potential side effects.
DeSantis argued that pharmaceutical companies had a financial interest in creating a climate in which people believed that getting a coronavirus vaccine would ensure they couldn’t spread the virus to others.
“The Biden administration and pharmaceutical corporations continue to push widespread distribution of mRNA vaccines on the public, including children as young as 6 months old, through relentless propaganda while ignoring real-life adverse events,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement in December.
The Florida Supreme Court granted his request on Dec. 22, 2022, committing to convening a grand jury to investigate any wrongdoing with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines. The grand jury will meet for one year.
In the meantime, DeSantis also convened a Public Health Integrity Committee comprised of some of the top COVID-19 countermeasure experts, including Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D, Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D. and Tracy Beth Høeg, M.D., Ph.D.
The committee will meet in May to examine “adverse events from mRNA vaccines,” The New York Post reported, and it will also provide guidance to the Florida Department of Health.
Along with DeSantis, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, M.D., Ph.D., has been vocal in his concerns about adverse events associated with the vaccines. He issued a health alert in Florida, warning residents about a “substantial increase” in reports of adverse events.
He also petitioned the heads of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the millions of adverse events that have been reported to VAERS.
He asked them to “promote transparency” with respect to the excess risk of adverse events associated with the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and asked them to “promote transparency” among healthcare professionals “to accurately communicate the risks these vaccines pose,” The Defender reported.
Brenda Baletti Ph.D. is a reporter for The Defender. She wrote and taught about capitalism and politics for 10 years in the writing program at Duke University. She holds a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master's from the University of Texas at Austin.
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