Everybody in Australia owes backup PM Kevin Rudd a big thank you for his efforts in sorting out the Pfizer situation, after it was revealed that our real Prime Minister hadn’t bothered to call the pharmaceutical company’s CEO.
Thanks Kevin ’07.”
UPDATE: 12/7/2021 3:55pm
Kevin Rudd has issued a statement following the backlash to the original ABC report, in which he clarifies the initial point made in his letter to Prime Minister Morrison that he had no intention to act as a formal representative of the Australian Government.
“Mr Rudd would definitely not seek to associate himself with the Australian Government’s comprehensively botched vaccine procurement program,” Rudd concluded in his statement as a last jab against the fact that most Australians still can’t get the jab.
Here’s a statement from my office responding to media enquiries. pic.twitter.com/xsUWIHohM0
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) July 12, 2021
UPDATE: 12/7/2021 1:10pm
Pfizer has released a formal statement following reports of third party involvement in Australia’s vaccine deal, in which it denies that Rudd or any other party had a role in the contractual agreements for Australia. However, it’s worth noting that Kevin Rudd made a point in his original letter to Scott Morrison to clarify that he was never intending to act as an official government representative and therefore wouldn’t have been able to make any formal arrangements.
The statement reads as follows:
“Recent media reports suggesting that any third party or individual has had any role in contractual agreements reached between Pfizer and the Australian government are inaccurate. The only two parties involved in these agreements are Pfizer and the Australian government.
“Pfizer is committed to delivering 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Australia over 2021. Pfizer has met its contractual commitments to date and is on track to deliver the remaining doses by the end of the year.
“All agreements and supply arrangements, including dose planning are exclusively made with the federal government, and details of the agreement and discussions are confidential. All discussions on supply and procurement with the federal government are led by Pfizer representatives in Australia.
“Pfizer has a strong relationship with the federal government with continuous engagement both locally and globally in support of the national vaccine program including supply requests.”
Read the original story below:
According to the ABC, the former PM met with Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, eight days before the Australian Government announced it was expediting vaccine shipments.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt has already rebuked the claims, telling 7:30 on Sunday that they “are not aware [Rudd’s] approach had any impact on the outcome” of the Pfizer rollout. However, a senior Australian businessman tells the ABC a very different story.
According to the report, a number of Australian senior business figures based in the US conjured up a plan to speak to Pfizer directly in late June amid rumours that our government messed up the negotiations by displaying a “rude, dismissive and penny pinching” approach to acquiring vaccines from Pfizer.
One of the businessmen – known to the ABC but speaking on the condition of anonymity – says he met with Pfizer executives on two separate occasions but ultimately didn’t have the power needed to sway them.
This is where Kevin Rudd comes in.
According to the anonymous source, senior executives at Pfizer asserted that the only way Australia could fix the situation is if a push came from a much higher member of society.
However, executives also flagged that Scott Morrison was yet to actually speak to the Pfizer CEO directly, despite the fact that other leaders — like former Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu — had done so previously.
Although, it’s worth noting that government sources told the ABC that Morrison has met with Pfizer representatives in Australia on multiple occasions.
Pfizer suggested that former PM Kevin ’07 may be able to remedy the situation as the company has had previous contact with him through his work as the head of Asia Society.
This prompted a Zoom meeting on June 30, in which Rudd was simply “speaking on my own initiative” and not as an official government representative.
Following the meeting, Rudd penned a lengthy letter to Morrison.
“My understanding was that there were current contractual arrangements with the Australian government to deliver a total 40 million doses by the end of 2021. I did so not as a representative of the Australian government, but purely in my private capacity as an Australian citizen who cares for his country’s wellbeing,” he wrote.
“Dr Bourla indicated that they had limited flexibility because of their existing supply obligations around the world. Nonetheless, he also indicated that a number of their manufacturing facilities were producing ahead of schedule. In response to my representations, Dr Bourla said he would personally look at “what further might be able to be done. I thanked Dr Bourla for that.
“Dr Bourla indicated that, if it became physically possible to bring forward delivery, he would require a further formal contractual request from the Australian government to that effect. I replied that that was understandable. I added, of course, that would be a matter for the Australian government and that I would pass this on to you.”
Rudd also added that a deal to purchase the 2022 Pfizer vaccine booster could help the situation, however, it’s worth noting that the booster is still in development.
“I speculated that it might perhaps be possible for the Australian government to consider a commercial offer for the 2022 booster that would also incorporate a bringing-forward of the current order for the 2021 vaccine into the early part of the third quarter of this year.”
A week after this call, Morrison announced that Australia had been successful in bringing forward the supplies.
“We have been working with Pfizer now for quite some period of time to bring forward our supplies … I commend Minister [Greg] Hunt and Professor [Brendan] Murphy and Lieutenant General [John] Frewen for the great job getting those supplies brought forward,” he told The Today Show on Friday.
As it currently stands, the Australian Government still asserts Rudd and the businessmen in the US didn’t influence the decision, but thanks them anyway.
“We appreciate all contributions from those outside of government, even if they made no material difference to the outcome,” Hunt’s office told 7:30.