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COVAX signs world’s first no-fault compensation programme for COVID-19 vaccines

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  The World Health Organization (WHO) and global insurance company Chubb Limited have signed an agreement for the administration of a no-fault compensation programme for countries that are accessing the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility. 

The compensation programme which is the first globally to cushion against possible vaccine injury will be operationalized in March and caters for 92 low and middle-income countries that are eligible for vaccine support.  

According to the latest statement from WHO, the initiative will offer countries a fast, fair, robust and transparent process to receive compensation for rare but serious adverse events associated with COVAX-distributed vaccines until 30 June 2022.

By providing no-fault lump-sum compensation in full and final settlement of any claims, the COVAX programme aims to significantly reduce the need for recourse to the law courts, a potentially lengthy and costly process, the statement reads in part explaining that countries or individuals will be required to apply for compensation under the programme beginning March 31st.  

“The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has been matched by the largest-ever rollout of new vaccines.  This no-fault compensation mechanism helps to ensure that people in eligible countries and economies can benefit from the cutting-edge science that has delivered COVID-19 vaccines in record time,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

He noted that all vaccines procured or distributed through the COVAX Facility receive regulatory approval or an emergency use authorization to confirm their safety and efficacy.   But, as with all medicines, even vaccines that are approved for general use may, in rare cases, cause serious adverse reactions.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with Chubb, which has the capabilities to support the COVAX facility through its global network and claims handling ability. WHO’s agreement with Chubb offers further protection and confidence in the life-saving power of vaccines”, he said.

GAVI, the Vaccines Alliance CEO Dr Seth Berkley said the compensation fund financed initially through donor funding, calculated as a levy charged on all doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed provides a boost to equitable access by all countries. 

“By providing a robust, transparent and independent mechanism to settle serious adverse events it helps those in countries who might have such effects, manufacturers to roll out vaccines to countries faster, and is a key benefit for lower-income governments procuring vaccines through the COVAX”. 

However, supply vaccines through the COVAX facility start at the end of February and it’s anticipated that by the end of 2021, deliveries of at least 2 billion doses will have been made including at least 1.3 billion doses to the 92 low and middle-income countries.

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