A health worker checks the boxes of Covishield vaccine at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri on January 14, 2021.
A health worker checks the boxes of Covishield vaccine at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri on January 14, 2021.
(Photo by AFP)

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, will be liable to pay damages in case of any adverse reaction after the usage of their COVID-19 vaccines-- Covaxin and Covishield respectively, reported News18.

Reportedly, the Centre has taken a call to not extend indemnity to vaccine developing companies and according to the purchase agreement they will be liable to pay damages for all adversaries as per CDSCO/Drugs and Cosmetics Act/ DCGI Policy/approval.

This comes after Pfizer had insisted on indemnity in India, similar to the kind it got in the United Kingdom (UK). This means the UK government will give the company legal protection in case of any adverse outcome and also take responsibility of treating it.

A highly placed source in the government told News18 that extending indemnity to the vaccine manufacturers was "out of question".

Earlier, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had also said the government needs to indemnify the vaccine developing companies against all lawsuits. "We need to have the government indemnify manufacturers, especially vaccine manufacturers, against all lawsuits. In fact, COVAX and other countries have already started talking about that," Poonawalla had said in December 2020.

It is because when frivolous claims come up, and something is blown out of proportion in the media, skepticism sets in that definitely something can happen due to the vaccine and to dispel that, the government needs to step in to spread the right information, he added.

"..the government can act, the US, for example, has in fact invoked a law, to say that during a pandemic, and this is especially important only during a pandemic, to indemnify vaccine manufacturers against lawsuits for severe adverse effects or any other frivolous claims which may come about, because that adds to the fear and also will bankrupt vaccine manufacturers or distract them if they have to just all day fight lawsuits and explain to the media what is happening," Poonawalla added.

Meanwhile, India is all set to kick off the much-awaited vaccination drive against COVID-19 on January 16.

The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine will provide priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who are estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.

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