First, some background.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the federal agency responsible for approving the use of the covid vaccine – lost big in a Texas district court a few weeks ago. The court ruled that the agency must release all documents related to its review of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. These documents include test protocols, safety and effectiveness data, correspondence and written summaries of discussions relating to the biological product file, adverse event reports, lot testing records, and other data, “with the exception of publicly available reports on the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.”
The Jan. 6 court order requires the FDA to disclose more than 12,000 pages of information by the end of this month, and then 55,000 pages every 30 days. This would also include producing redacted versions of any documents for which FDA claims a privilege, exemption or exclusion.
The FDA has since petitioned the court for a less stringent schedule, claiming that it has to spend several million dollars on dozens of new staff to read through each document slowly and debate what merits a redaction.
It’s pretty funny to read commentary on this ruling, as there is no shortage of people who think it’s just so unfair that a public agency has to make its deliberations public, look at all this money the agency has to “waste” backing up its claims that this was the most thorough evaluation of a vaccine in all of human history with actual documentation. You know the only people with an interest in the vaccine and its potential side effects are “anti-vaxxers” who don’t “trust” that the government and Big Pharma always have their best interests in mind. This isn’t something ordinary Americans even think about, only the domestic terrorists.
In a somewhat humorous twist, Pfizer has approached the court, nobly offering its resources as a company recently cashed up. The FDA should not have to handle this arduous task all alone, not when a private corporation could offer its own lawyers to read through the documents and help them make redactions. Got that? A private corporation wants to help a government agency with the details of responding to government open records requests. They think the information that will eventually be released will only bolster their position that the vaccine is safe and effective. They just want to make sure certain things aren’t made public that shouldn’t be – specifically, what’s in the vaccine.
In fact, Pfizer argues that the company is even in a better position than government lawyers to determine what the public should be allowed to see, because they know what is of value to Pfizer’s business operations, and trade secrets are the core content to be redacted. Trade secrets being everything that was required to develop and test the vaccine.