TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Supreme Court has approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’ petition to, and now ordered the state to, empanel a grand jury with the purpose of investigating alleged harms from the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
DeSantis first announced the plans for his petition on Dec. 13, while hosting a roundtable on what was described as vaccine accountability alongside Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta of the 13th Judicial Circuit was named the presiding judge.
In addition to the petition for a grand jury, DeSantis announced the creation of a new health advisory committee in the state, called the Public Health Integrity Committee, to be led by Ladapo, with board members to include:
- Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD
- Martin Kuldorff, PhD
- Tracy Beth Høeg, MD, PhD
- Joseph Fraiman, MD
- Christine Stabell Benn, MD, PhD
- Bret Weinstein, PhD
- Steven Templeton, PhD
In the request for the grand jury, DeSantis said the mRNA vaccines which had been mandated for use by the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic were pushed by “individuals and companies with an incentive to do so creat[ing] these perceptions for financial gain.”
According to the order from the Florida Supreme Court, the justices were not unanimous. Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz and Justices Charles T. Canady, Ricky Polston, John D. Couriel, and Jamie R. Grosshans voted to empanel the jury, while Justice Jorge Labarga voted against it. Justice Renatha Francis, the newest member of the state’s highest court, did not participate in the vote.
Additionally, the now-approved panel will be charged with investigating what Florida officials call “representations” that the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna would end the pandemic and end viral transmission of COVID-19, with the state now questioning the accuracy of those claims.
As previously reported, the petition said investigations will also focus on violations of the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, and crimes involving “fraud or deceit.”
Further information released by the governor’s office said the empaneled jury will include investigation of the pharmaceutical industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pertaining to their refusal “to release patient-level data for independent researchers” as well as “crimes and wrongs in Florida related to the COVID-19 vaccines and further recommend enforcement methods.”