The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to impanel a grand jury to investigate COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, their executives, and other medical associations or organizations involved in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for potential wrongdoing.
“A statewide grand jury shall be promptly impaneled for a term of twelve calendar months, to run from the date of impanelment, with jurisdiction throughout the State of Florida, to investigate crime, return indictments, make presentments, and otherwise perform all functions of a grand jury with regard to the offenses stated herein,” the court order read.
In his petition to the Florida Supreme Court, DeSantis said investigations will focus on violations of the Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, and crimes involving “fraud or deceit.”
DeSantis said vaccine makers created an environment that misled people into believing that getting a COVID vaccine would prevent the spread of the virus to others. COVID mRNA vaccines were then mandated by the federal government and pushed by “individuals and companies with an incentive to do so creat[ing] these perceptions for financial gain.”
DeSantis also called out Pfizer and Moderna, who previously claimed there was no causal connection between myocarditis and their COVID-19 vaccines but then, four months later, acknowledged it as a “rare” side effect that is “typically mild.”
Myocarditis is heart muscle inflammation that can lead to cardiac arrhythmia and death. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, myocarditis can result from infections, but “more commonly, the myocarditis is a result of the body’s immune reaction to the initial heart damage.”
The Florida Department of Health conducted its own analysis and found an “increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related deaths among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination,” the petition states.
DeSantis cited reports from other countries finding a connection between COVID-19 vaccines and cardiovascular events, including death.
“These reports raise questions regarding whether the representations made by the pharmaceutical industry with respect to the safety and risks of their COVID-19 vaccines have been true,” he wrote.
Additional information released by the governor’s office said the grand jury will investigate the pharmaceutical industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, relating 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.”
According to the order, Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz and Justices Charles T. Canady, Ricky Polston, John D. Couriel, and Jamie R. Grosshans voted to impanel the jury, while Justice Jorge Labarga voted against it. Justice Renatha Francis did not participate in the vote. The court appointed Tampa-based judge Ronald Ficarrotta to preside over the grand jury.
Statewide grand juries, usually comprised of 18 people, can investigate criminal activity and issue indictments, examine systemic issues in Florida, and make recommendations.
The order said the grand jury will look at people and “entities, including, but not limited to, pharmaceutical manufacturers (and their executive officers) and other medical associations or organizations involved in the design, development, clinical testing or investigation, manufacture, marketing, representation, advertising, promotion, labeling, distribution, formulation, packing, sale, purchase, donation, dispensing, prescribing, administration, or use of vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.”
Earlier this month, DeSantis called for the investigation into COVID-19 vaccines to provide mechanisms to procure more data and legal accountability for “those who have committed misconduct.”
“In Florida, it is illegal to mislead and misrepresent, especially when you are talking about the efficacy of a drug,” DeSantis said during a Dec. 13 roundtable with Florida’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and other scientists. “We’ll be able to get the data whether they want to give it or not.”
Gov. DeSantis, on Dec. 13, also announced the creation of a Public Health Integrity Committee, a “committee of expert researchers charged with assessing federal decisions, recommendations, and guidance related to public health and health care.”
Surgeon General Ladapo will receive input from the committee to ensure public health policies are tailored for Florida’s communities and aligned with state priorities. Experts on the committee include Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Dr. Martin Kuldorff, Tracy Beth Høeg, Dr. Joseph Fraiman, Dr. Christine Stabell Benn, Dr. Bret Weinstein, and Dr. Steven Templeton.