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‘Pfizergate’ affair lead EU lawmaker Michèle Rivasi dies aged 70

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Michèle Rivasi, the Green MEP who pushed for the SMS exchanges between the European Commission President and Pfizer CEO to be made public, died on Wednesday (29 November) at the age of 70 of a heart attack while on her way to the European Parliament in Brussels. 

Rivasi had been a Member of the European Parliament for the Greens since 2009, notably getting involved in a battle against the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement and standing against the use of pesticides, including glyphosate.

In the name of transparency, she devoted part of her last mandate to investigating the so-called “SMS affair”, which concerns suspicions about text messages exchanged between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla about the negotiation of a contract for 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. 

“Always ready to defend the principles she held dear, Michèle Rivasi devoted her life to protecting biodiversity and our health, and to fighting for the transparency of our institutions in the interests of European citizens,” a press release reads.

She was also known for her controversial stance on vaccines. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the MEP had criticised the implementation of a ‘COVID certificate’ and compulsory vaccination of healthcare workers in France.

On X (formerly Twitter), President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said she was “saddened” by the “sudden death” of Rivasi, “an experienced MEP of deep convictions, committed and hard-working”. 

“We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague Michèle Rivasi. […] Her remarkable career, her passionate political battles and her empathy have left their mark on all those who had the chance to meet her,” said Terry Reintke and Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group. 

“Our Group and the European Parliament are today losing a political figure who, throughout her career, sought above all to defend the public interest,” the statement said. 

Before being elected as an MEP, Rivasi was a Socialist MP for the southeastern French region of Drôme from 1997 to 2002. She also founded the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD) in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986.

Edited by Theo Bourgery-Gonse

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