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Bombshell emails show Pfizer tried to meet Health Minister Greg Hunt

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 8/09/2021 Charlie Moore, Political Reporter For Daily Mail Australia
Greg Hunt in a suit and tie: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Bombshell emails have revealed that Pfizer asked to meet Health Minister Greg Hunt to offer Australia doses of its Covid-19 vaccine but he instead sent a public servant in his place.

On June 30 last year a Pfizer representative contacted the Health Department to request the meeting, saying the American company had 'the potential to supply millions of vaccine doses [around the world] by the end of 2020'.

Mr Hunt left it to First Assistant Secretary in the Health Department Lisa Schofield to respond and three days later she said that she - not the minister - would attend a virtual meeting on July 10.

text, letter: ( © Provided by Daily Mail ( ( © Provided by Daily Mail (

The US and the UK signed deals to buy millions of doses from Pfizer in July but no-one from Mr Hunt's office met the company until August 4.

Australia finally signed a deal for a measly 10million doses in November. The first doses arrived in February, two months after the US and UK had already rolled them out.

Labor health spokesman Mark Butler claimed the emails, which were released on the Health Department website last month, showed Mr Hunt 'couldn't be bothered' to sign vaccine deals.

'While other countries were signing Pfizer deals, our government couldn't even be bothered arranging a meeting,' he said.

'Australians are paying the price of Scott Morrison's incompetence; we have more people in lockdown and fewer people fully vaccinated than any other developed country.' 


Video: Health services 'under strain' and 'not built for purpose' to deal with hospital surge (Sky News Australia)

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Mr Hunt refuted the allegation, saying: 'The Department began working with Pfizer shortly after the pandemic began.

'The Department's first formal meeting with Pfizer was on 10 July after Pfizer wrote to the Government advising they were now in a position to engage formally, while the COVID-19 vaccine candidate was in Phase 1 clinical trials,' he added. 

Greg Hunt wearing a suit and tie: ( © Provided by Daily Mail (

In the email on June 30, a Pfizer rep wrote: 'I am able to make senior members of Pfizer's global leadership team available for this discussion, particularly if the Minister and/or Departmental leadership can be involved.

'As the vaccine development landscape is moving swiftly, including through engagements with other nations, I am requesting this meeting occur at the earliest opportunity.'

Despite the urgency, the government did not reply for three days and then Ms Schofield only gave a short response saying she would ask her assistant to set up a meeting for her. 

On July 6, Pfizer replied saying that a 90-minute meeting with the company's global leaders in Europe could be arranged if the government was willing to sign a Confidential Disclosure agreement, which would keep Pfizer's vaccine plans secret.

Ms Schofield said it was 'not usual practice' for the government to sign such an agreement and so instead an 'introductory' meeting was arranged with Pfizer Australia representatives. 

Albert Bourla wearing a suit and tie: ( © Provided by Daily Mail (

On July 23, the Pfizer representative emailed Ms Schofield to say the UK and US had signed deals and that the company was 'looking forward to scheduling another meeting with you' once the Confidential Disclosure Agreement was signed. 

Finally, someone from Mr Hunt's office met with Pfizer on August 4, almost five weeks after the initial email. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been slammed for failing to order enough Pfizer doses fast enough last year and has admitted 'no government gets everything right'.

Labor say 14million Australians would not be in lockdown right now if more vaccines were ordered.  

'Labor's claim is false': Greg Hunt's response in full 

The Department of Health published these documents on the Department of Health website on 16 August.

The ALP claim is false and has been refuted with facts on multiple occasions by multiple parties.

The Department began working with Pfizer shortly after the pandemic began.

There had been constant informal engagements prior to that time, as the email trail shows.

Pfizer advised however, they were not allowed to commence formal negotiations at that time.

On 30 June, Pfizer wrote to the Minister to commence formal discussions. The Australian Government moved immediately to formal negotiations with the first step being to agree and negotiate a Confidentially Disclosure Agreement.

The Department's first formal meeting with Pfizer was on 10 July after Pfizer wrote to the Government advising they were now in a position to engage formally, while the COVID-19 vaccine candidate was in Phase 1 clinical trials. 

Since this time, there have been numerous formal meetings and phone engagements with the company as part of securing supply of the vaccine for the Australian population.

The Australian Government entered into an Advanced Purchase Agreement (APA) with Pfizer for the purchase of their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, whilst ensuring safe and effective vaccines for Australians based on the medical advice from SITAG (the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group) and the maximum doses available.

As Pfizer's Statement at the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 hearing on 28 January 2021 states:

'As Pfizer informed Parliament whilst giving evidence on the record to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 hearing on 28 January 2021, Pfizer proposed to the Australian Government the procurement of 10 million doses of our COVID-19 vaccine and that was the number initially contracted by the Government. 

'The parties have since signed agreements for a further 30 million doses for 2021. Our discussions are confidential, however the supply of vaccine in Australia was developed following consultation with the Australian Government and each agreement was based on the availability of doses and earliest schedule that could be provided at that time.'

The Department has been actively engaged with Pfizer since very early in the pandemic.

These discussions have been extensive and cooperative.

SITAG also met five times to consider in detail the latest data on the vaccine.

As Pfizer has made clear, no earlier doses were available to Australia.

The reference in the letter to the 'potential to supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020, subject to technical success and regulatory approvals, then rapidly scale up to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021' referred to Pfizer's global production capacity not what was on offer to Australia.

 
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