In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking the data used to approve the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claimed that it would need until nearly the end of the century to fully release all of the requested documents.
But a federal judge Thursday rejected the FDA’s proposed timeline and instead ordered it to produce those documents at an “expeditious” rate that would ensure everything has been made public within a matter of months, the Washington Examiner reports.
While the FDA suggested it could only produce 500 pages per month — which would mean it would take about 75 years, or until 2097, to release all of the estimated 450,000 pages — U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman has said the agency must immediately release 12,000 pages, and then publish an additional 55,000 pages per month until it’s all out in the open.
At that pace, every page would be released by the fall, according to the Examiner.
Judge orders “expeditious” release
The FDA first offered up its proposed timeline in December 2021, according to Reuters, in response to a FOIA suit filed by a group of doctors and scientists known as Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency.
In a court filing, the group’s attorney, Aaron Siri, argued that the FDA’s proposed rate of production was “so slow that the documents will not be fully produced until almost all of the scientists, attorneys, and most of the Americans that received Pfizer’s product, will have died of old age.”
The attorney also told Reuters that it’s “dystopian for the government to give Pfizer billions, mandate Americans to take its product, prohibit Americans from suing for harms, but yet refuse to let Americans see the data underlying its licensure.”
Fast-forward to Thursday, and in a four-page ruling, Pittman, a Trump appointee, agreed, saying the release of the documents is of “paramount public importance” and that an “expeditious” rollout is “not only practicable, but necessary.”
“We deserve complete transparency”
After the FDA unveiled its initial timeline, congressional Republicans slammed President Joe Biden’s administration for the unacceptably slow page.
Chief among the critics was Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who minced no words in calling out the “complete ineptitude” at play.
“It’s an absolute ridiculous claim to need 75 years to process FOIA requests on a vaccine that Biden and the Far Left are working overtime to mandate on the American people,” Biggs told the Daily Caller in December.
“We deserve complete transparency surrounding these vaccines,” the congressman added. “But, once again, the Biden administration is demonstrating the complete ineptitude of federal bureaucracy and why it has no place in dictating the private healthcare decisions of the American people.”