European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is said to have kept secret text messages with Pfizer's CEO about purchasing Covid vaccine doses.
Brussels: An official EU watchdog on Friday slammed European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for keeping secret text messages with Pfizer's CEO about purchasing Covid vaccine doses, saying it "constituted maladministration".
The EU ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, issued a formal recommendation telling von der Leyen's office to search for and hand over the texts under a freedom of information request lodged by a journalist.
Von der Leyen's Commission spearheaded the pre-purchase of Covid vaccines for the 27 EU countries.
More than half the 4.2 billion doses the commission has bought or optioned are sourced from BioNTech-Pfizer, making it by far the biggest supplier to the bloc's inoculation efforts.
The commission refuses to divulge key aspects of its contracts with Covid vaccine suppliers, notably on pricing, citing commercial confidentiality.
Von der Leyen's active public role in ensuring vaccine access included one-on-one conversations with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a dual Greek-American.