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Vaccine Liability in light of Covid-19

On 22/11/2021 the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mrs Kyriakides, replied on behalf of the European Commission to a question raised by a fellow member concerning vaccine liability in light of Covid-19.

Among other things, the Commissioner said that “the Commission has made clear throughout the implementation of the vaccines strategy that it will not make any compromises on the application of the existing rules that apply to bringing a pharmaceutical product into the market”.

The Commission ensures that any agreement made to secure vaccines under the vaccines-strategy is fully compliant with EC law. They respect and protect citizens’ rights, in line with the Product Liability Directive 85/374/EEC (the “Directive”). In accordance with the Directive, liability remains with the manufacturer.

Communication about compensation procedures for side effects should take place at national level. The Commission is not aware of agreements between Member States and the companies concerning compensation for damages paid out by pharmaceutical companies”.

The Commissioner assured Cypriot citizens that the Covid-19 vaccines are not the exception to the rule, but on the contrary, the vaccines go through the same checks and procedures as other pharmaceutical products before being distributed into the market. The Directive states, among other things, that to establish liability, the injured person must prove the defect, the damage and the causal link between the two.

Article 6 of the annex to the commission decision (2020)4192 on the Agreement between the Commission and Member States on procuring covid-19 vaccines provides that “participating member states acquiring a vaccine shall be responsible for the deployment and use of the vaccines under their national vaccination strategies, and shall bear any liability associated with such use and deployment. This shall extend to and include any indemnification of vaccine manufacturers under the terms and conditions of the relevant APA for liability related to the use and deployment of vaccines normally borne by such manufacturer”.

What we perceive is that Member States shall deploy and use the vaccines with caution and care, otherwise they may face huge indemnification claims from the manufacturers, who will try to reinstate their name, trustworthiness and market dominance after successful law suits from civilians who suffered harm linked with the administration of the vaccine.