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WHO and partners launch vaccine injury compensation program for poorer countries

The World Health Organization holds a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Jan 30, 2020. (Xinhua)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have agreed to launch a program for claims of serious side effects among people in 92 poorer countries due to COVID-19 vaccination, the WHO said Monday (Feb. 22) in a statement.

"This is the first and only global vaccine injury compensation mechanism" operating on an international scale, the WHO statement said.

According to WHO, the program, No-Fault Compensation, will offer eligible individuals "a fast, fair, robust and transparent process to receive compensation for rare but serious adverse events associated with COVAX-distributed vaccines until June 30, 2022."

COVAX is a facility led by WHO for better COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The statement said all vaccines procured or distributed through COVAX receive regulatory approval or an emergency use authorization to confirm their safety and efficacy.

"But, as with all medicines, even vaccines that are approved for general use may, in rare cases, cause serious adverse reactions," WHO said.

"By providing a no-fault lump-sum compensation in full and final settlement of any claims, the COVAX program aims to significantly reduce the need for recourse to the law courts, a potentially lengthy and costly process," said the statement.

By providing a mechanism to settle serious adverse events, the compensation program could help those who might have such effects, and help manufacturers to roll out vaccines to countries faster, said Seth Berkley, CEO of the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, in the statement.

The program will be operated by ESIS, a subsidiary of the Zurich-based multinational insurance company Chubb Limited, the WHO said, adding that the compensation mechanism is to be funded by Gavi through a "levy charged on all doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed through the COVAX Facility".

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the agreement, saying that this agreement offers further protection and confidence in the life-saving power of vaccines.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 251 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 70 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by WHO on Feb. 19.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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