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WHO to set up COVID-19 vaccine insurance scheme for 92 low-income countries

The scheme could foot the bill should anything go unexpectedly wrong after a COVAX-distributed vaccine is administered

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A vaccine scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation is setting up a compensation fund for people in poor nations who might suffer any side-effects from COVID-19 vaccines, aiming to allay fears that could hamper a global rollout of shots.

The mechanism is meant to avoid a repetition of delays experienced a decade ago during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic when inoculations were slowed down in dozens of low-income countries because there was no clear liability.

The scheme is being set up by the promoters of the COVAX vaccine facility, which is co-led by the WHO and GAVI, a global vaccine alliance, a COVAX document said. COVAX aims to distribute at least two billion effective shots around the world by the end of next year.

The scheme could foot the bill for 92 low-income countries, mostly in Africa and South-East Asia, meaning their governments would face little or no costs from claims brought by patients, should anything go unexpectedly wrong after a COVAX-distributed vaccine is administered.

However, dozens of middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Lebanon, Gabon, Iran and most Latin American states, would not be offered this protection.

“The COVAX Facility is developing a system to provide compensation to those individuals in any of the 92 economies … that suffer unexpected SAEs (serious adverse events) associated with such vaccines or their administration,” COVAX said.

It was not clear what criteria were used to select the 92 nations.

Under the compensation scheme, countries using COVAX vaccines would indemnify drugmakers at least until July 2022.

(Edits by EP News Bureau)

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