Covid-19 Vaccine Indemnity Clause

By WC Kaunda

Manufacturers of the Covid-19 vaccine and WHO have agreed to pass on the risk of vaccine failure to governments. As such, individuals are not forced to take the vaccine. Everyone taking the vaccine does so out of their own free will. Should they be affected negatively by the vaccine, they have no one to blame.

Malawi Government has signed on to this arrangement. Let’s also be quick to point out that no tax payers money is being spent on buying these vaccines and the government won’t force anyone to get vaccinated.

Several quarters have raised concerns over the existence of the indemnity clause. And I do agree that the indemnity concerns are genuine. There are numerous cases where people have either died or been adversely affected after taking this vaccine.

However, we also need to look at why the vaccine manufacturers are pushing WHO to be indemnified against any resultant fatality.

Manufacturers have fast tracked the development of this vaccine at the request of governments. The fast track means certain steps in the vaccine development cycle had not been fully derisked. The question then is who bears this risk?

The manufacturers are saying you asked us to shorten the development and we did. It is fair game that governments bear the risk of failure. We therefore have to understand that governments hands are tied on this one. But they still have a duty to let those that would be helped by the vaccine to access the product.

So if it was me, I would simply ask govt to tell the public all the risks associated with this vaccine. And to stress on these risks being universal. It will be up to individual Malawians to make an informed decision whether to get vaccinated or not.

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