A French lawyer yesterday (January 9) launched a bid to prove his client’s ‘totally incapacitating’ illness came on as a result of taking the Pfizer Covid vaccine.
Marseille avocat Eric Lanzarone, who says he has around 300 similar clients on his books, is bringing a case against both Pfizer, the American company which makes and markets the vaccine, and BioNTech, the German laboratory which developed it.
A hearing was held before Marseille’s civil court yesterday, to bring the case of one of the clients, a 55-year-old woman who is remaining anonymous.
He wants her symptoms to be acknowledged as side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Mr Lanzarone said she developed rheumatoid arthritis a few days after her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Today, she can no longer walk for more than 500m without stopping and has been on sick leave from work since. This is a totally incapacitating, disabling side effect.”
Mr Lanzarone says among his many clients with similar claims he has seen such issues as vision problems, endometriosis, and myocarditis (heart problems).
In its defence, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer put forward a team of lawyers, led by Capucine Van Robays, also from Marseille.
Lawyer wants a medical expert to be designated by court
In order to prove a link between the vaccination and his client’s illness, Mr Lanzarone wants a medical expert to be designated by the court to determine cause and effect.
If the link is proven, he will undertake a further court process to seek compensation.
Yesterday saw arguments between the two parties as to what sort of expert should be designated.
Mr Lanzarone stated an immunologist or a specialist in internal medicine was required to fully prove the link, whereas Pfizer and BioNTech suggested a rheumatologist. Mr Lanzarone believes the latter would only take note of his client’s current condition, not the way it arose.
The judge is set to decide with a further hearing now due on February 13.
Meanwhile the alleged victim asked for a €5,000 payment now to be offset against her future compensation. The companies’ lawyers said this was inappropriate as nothing had been proved.
One of the lawyers for Pfizer, Sylvie Gallage-Alwis, said: “Most of the time polyarthritis is a genetic illness and there is a long list of causes of this illness.”
Mr Lanzarone says he is not ‘anti-Vax’
Mr Lanzarone has stated he is not ‘anti-vax’, but that he was called upon by a number of people to represent them after publicity over his attempts last year to contest a contract signed between Pfizer and the European Commission when the vaccine was ordered.
He claims the contract, whose full details have officially been kept confidential but which he says he has had sight of when it was briefly released on the internet, requires Pfizer to be compensated by the French state in the case of them incurring legal costs and penalties related to side effects from having the jabs.
Mr Lanzarone said: “It’s about privatising profits, but making the state responsible for the risks. I don’t think it should be up to taxpayers in France to pay out for side effects.”
The case in Marseille also follows an ongoing one started last year on behalf of a parisian woman with heart problems that she also says developed after being vaccinated. In that case Mr Lanzarone sued only Pfizer and not BioNTech.
140 million Pfizer jabs in France
There have been more than 140 million Pfizer injections administered in France, data from Santé publique France and CovidTracker shows. It was one of the most commonly-used vaccines in the country, alongside the Moderna jab.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was also given early in the campaign but this was later retired from use in France due to a fear of unwanted side effects.
In March 2021, the French medicines safety agency l’agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM) analysed data from across the country’s medical monitoring centres les centres régionaux de pharmacovigilance (CRPV), and published a report into side effects.
In February 2022, the French Senate debated the issue of vaccine side effects after a petition on the subject gathered 33,000 signatures.