Analysis: If Covid-19 Vaccines Cause Side-effects, Who Pays? Producers or Governments?

Procurement contracts for vaccines have forced governments to consider whether they should give legal indemnity to vaccine makers. Some countries have enacted laws to clarify who is liable when vaccines cause adverse effects, but the pandemic poses a greater challenge.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - As the most ambitious inoculation initiative in history begins in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, compensation for potential side-effects is a key issue as governments try to strike a balance between obtaining supplies of vaccines and protecting the public.

The dismay vented by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over a vaccine maker’s refusal to be held responsible for potential side-effects revealed the tensions behind negotiations over nations’ vaccine procurement, with terms on indemnification being a significant battleground.

Many developed countries are willing to take on the risks and hold harmless vaccine makers . . .

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