Secretary of State discloses vaccine prices on Twitter despite secrecy clause

The Federal Secretary of State responsible for the Budget Eva De Bleeker (Flemish liberal) published the prices of the various coronavirus vaccines that Belgium will order if they are given the green light by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The prices that were negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of the EU members states should have remained secret. Some federal opposition parties have said that the publication of the prices to be paid for vaccines on Ms De Bleekers Twitter account could lead to legal action being taken as the contracts agreed with those that produce the vaccines contain secrecy clauses with regard to pricing. 

Since the conclusion of negotiations between the European Commission and the vaccine manufacturers the price of the vaccines had remained a closely guarded secret. However, on Thursday afternoon the Federal Secretary of State responsible for the budget tweeted a table listing the price Belgium will pay for each of the vaccines that we have signed up for.

It was already know that there are differences in price between each of the viruses. However, we now know exactly how much each virus will cost. For example, the AstraZeneca vaccine will cost the Belgian authorities 1.78 euro/dose. This is just a fraction of the 12 euro/dose that the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine will cost.

Most of the vaccines require two doses. Only in the case of the Janssen Pharmaceutica (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine (8.5 US Dollars/dose) are researchers currently examining whether 1 dose will suffice.   

Ms De Bleeker tweet was a reaction to criticism from the Flemish nationalist group in the Federal Parliament. The Flemish nationalists had said that there was no provision for the purchase of the vaccines in the budget.

Ms De Bleeker's office said that the discussion about funding for the purchase of the vaccines continued on social media even after the Secretary of State had made it clear that funding had been made available. Her communication team wanted to provide transparency. However, they went a step too far and the tweet was removed not long after it had been published.

 

By then numerous people including the VRT political editor Ivan De Vadder had seen the tweet. In his own tweet Ivan De Vadder asked why Ms De Bleeker’s original tweet had been removed.

In turn Ivan De Vadder’s tweet was spotted by the Group Leader of the Flemish nationalists in the Federal Parliament Peter De Roover. Mr De Roover confronted the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke about the removed tweet during a debate in the Federal Parliament. Mr Vandenbroucke said that he could speak for Ms De Bleeker. 

However, he did say that Belgium is bound to the principles agreed by the European Commission when it negotiated the prices with the vaccine manufacturers.

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