Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced plans to impanel a statewide grand jury tasked with investigating "any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to COVID-19 vaccines" during a round table event with the state's Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo on Tuesday.
Comparing the action to his state's settlement with drug manufacturers behind the opioid crisis, DeSantis' announcement comes just days after he'd promised to "hold these manufacturers accountable for this mRNA [vaccine]."
"They said there was no side effects," DeSantis explained at a private event over the weekend. "We know that there have been, and there have been a lot." While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that inflammation of the heart tissue occurred "rarely" following mRNA COVID vaccinations, DeSantis claimed during the same event that "We did a study in Florida, and you saw an 86 percent increase in cardiac-related activity from people 18 to 39 from mRNA shots."
During his event on Tuesday, DeSantis insinuated that the grand jury push was, in part, an effort to make public various reports regarding vaccine efficacy and side effects which manufacturers like Moderna and Pfizer had previously kept private. "We'll be able to get the data whether they want to give it or not," DeSantis vowed.
As The Bulwark's Amanda Carpenter notes, these latest anti-vaccine comments from DeSantis may be part of a broader ramp-up to a potential 2024 presidential run, positioning the governor to the right of former President Donald Trump on COVID-related issues in a play for the GOP base.
Earlier this year, DeSantis made a similar request to impanel a grand jury to focus on another of his tentpole political issues: undocumented immigration and "the effects of those international networks on Florida and how they have violated Florida law." According to Miami Herald reporter Ana Ceballos, the use of statewide grand juries was previously a rarity in Florida politics, occurring just 20 times over the past forty years.