Serum Institute of India seeks indemnity as reports suggest foreign vaccines may soon get legal protection

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, June 03, 2021, 09:38 AM IST
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A medic administers COVID-19 vaccine dose to a student during a special vaccination drive organised by the Karnataka government for the students, who are going abroad for education and employment, in Bengaluru | Photo: PTI

A day after reports indicated that the Centre was mulling indemnity for foreign vaccine makers such as Pfizer and Moderna, the Serum Institute of India has now sought protection against liabilities. This however goes beyond a single Indian company. According to sources quoted by news agency ANI, this all the vaccine companies should get indemnity protection against liabilities if foreign companies are granted the same.

In recent days, the government is ramping up efforts to get additional COVID-19 vaccines to India, seemingly having put aside many earlier reservations. On Wednesday, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) exempted COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by some other international regulatory bodies from having to undergo local bridging trials. This in turn makes it easier for foreign COVID-19 vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna to reach India.

Reports that quote government sources have also suggested that the administration is willing to grant indemnity to foreign vaccine makers. One may recall that one of the reasons behind the delay in procuring Pfizer vaccines is the fact that the company is seeking indemnity bond that will exempt it from any legal claims in case there are adverse effects from the vaccine.

It must be mentioned here that these remain unconfirmed yet. Based on official communiques, no official decision has been taken yet, and the topic of indemnity remains under discussion.

Interestingly however, a former senior ICMR official told ANI on Wednesday that no company in India's vaccination history has ever paid indemnity. And the government, which is the biggest user of vaccines, has also not done it.

Even deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have not come under this umbrella," former Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr Nirmal K Ganguly said.

(with inputs from agencies)

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