WHO agrees compensation fund for serious COVAX vaccine side effects

Kate Kelland By

LONDON (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a no-fault compensation package for significant harmful consequences in individuals in 92 developing countries, which is designed by COVID-19 vaccinations through COVAX sharing schemes.

The WHO's first and only international vaccine injury coverage mechanism is a service that will provide "a fast, fair, robust and transparent process" of qualified citizens, the WHO said in a statement.

"By providing a 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,"

Questions on how demands for reimbursement should be dealt with in the case of any significant COVID-19 side effects which are likely to be very uncommon, is of interest to countries because COVID-19 shots could be accessed under the COVAX programme.

Countries who finance their own vaccine production schemes COVID-19 also plan their own liability programmes.

The WHO accepted programme, negotiated for several months, is intended to protect significant adverse reactions to COVAX's Advance Consumer Contribution economies, a community of 92 weaker nations that occupies most of the African and Southeast Asian countries, which will be related to every vaccine distributed until 30 June 2022.

It would initially be funded by donor funds to the AMC as an added expense for all doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered through COVAX.

Applications can be made from 31 March 2021, the WHO said on the http://www.covaxclaims.com portal.

Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of the COVAX co-leading GAVI vaccine alliance, said that the reward fund deal is "a massive boost" for COVAX aimed at ensuring equal global access to the COVID-19.

"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 (COVAX)," said Berkley.

The WHO also confirmed that it was negotiating with the Chubb insurance corporation to obtain insurance protection for the programme.

(Kate Kelland reporting; Alison Williams editing)