“During the usual vaccination drive, it is the responsibility of the company to provide protection in case of any untoward incident. While we are of the view that we should follow the same policy, a final decision will be taken once the agreements are signed with the vaccine makers,” a senior government official told ET.
A number of countries including the US have shifted at least part of the liability for vaccines to the government considering the extraordinary situation and the urgency to develop vaccine in a short timespan amid the pandemic.
The World Health Organization in a statement had said it, along with its Covax vaccine facility partners, is developing a no-fault compensation scheme for indemnification and liability issues for Covid-19 vaccine makers. An official of a domestic vaccine maker said, “We have been talking to the government about waiving off the indemnity clause, but there is no decision from the government on this yet.”
The person did not wish to be identified citing the sensitivity of the issue. Serum Institute of India had earlier called for indemnification for vaccine makers in case people suffer adverse events. The company was served with a Rs 5-crore legal notice sent by a trial participant to SII after he suffered a neurological dysfunction.
Experts called for clarity on the matter before the rollout of vaccines as it could lead to huge complications. “We have seen how multinational company Johnson & Johnson questioned the legality while paying compensation to people who suffered due to their hip implants,” an expert said on condition of anonymity. “The government should take a decision in this regard without any delay.”