Written by Kate Kelland
LONDON () – The World Health Organization has agreed a no-fault compensation plan for claims of serious side effects in people in 92 poorer countries for receiving COVID-19 through the COVAX sharing scheme, addressing major concerns among recipient governments.
The program, which the WHO said is the first and only mechanism to compensate for injuries with a vaccine that operates internationally, will offer eligible people a “fast, fair, robust and transparent procedure,” the WHO said in a statement.
“By providing lump-sum compensation without guilt in the complete and final resolution of all claims, the COVAX program seeks to significantly reduce the need to go to court, which is a potentially lengthy and expensive process,” the statement said.
Questions about how claims will be dealt with in the event of any serious side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, which are likely to be very rare, have worried states about getting COVID-19 injections through the COVAX plan.
Countries that fund their own procurement of COVID-19 vaccines also plan their own accountability programs.
The plan agreed with the WHO, which has been under discussion for several months, is designed to cover the serious side effects associated with any vaccine distributed by COVAX by June 30, 2022, with COVAX economies eligible for market improvement – a group of 92 poorer countries which includes most African and Southeast Asian countries.
The program will initially be funded from donor funds to AMC as an additional fee for all doses of COVID-19 vaccine distributed through COVAX. applications can be made through the portal at http://www.covaxclaims.com as of March 31, 2021, the WHO said.
Seth Berkley, executive director of the GAVI vaccine federation that co-runs COVAX, said the compensation fund agreement is a “huge boost” for COVAX, which aims to ensure fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“It helps those in countries that could have such effects, producers to introduce vaccines into countries faster, and it is a key benefit for lower-income governments that procure vaccines through (COVAX),” Berkley said.
The WHO said it is also working with insurance company Chubb to provide insurance for the program.