New Delhi, December 19: Adar Poonawalla, whose Serum Institute of India is manufacturing Covishield - Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19), has said the government should protect manufacturers of vaccine from lawsuits in case of adverse reactions of shots. Participating in a virtual panel discussion on the challenges to vaccine development, Adar Poonawalla said lawsuits will increase fear about vaccination and could make manufacturers of vaccine "bankrupt or distract". When Will COVID-19 Vaccine Covishield, Developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Be Available? Adar Poonawalla Responds.
"We need to have the government indemnify manufacturers, especially vaccine manufacturers, against all lawsuits. In fact, COVAX and other countries have already started talking about that. This is especially important only during a pandemic to indemnify vaccine manufacturers against lawsuits for severe adverse effects or any other frivolous claims which may come about because that adds to the fear (about vaccines)," Poonawalla was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying during the discussion. COVID-19 Vaccine Covishield Safe, Incident With Chennai Volunteer Not Related to Trials, Says Serum Institute of India.
The owner of SII pitched for the enactment of a law to protect vaccine manufacturer from "frivolous" legal cases. "The government can act. The US, for example, has in fact invoked a law, to say that during a pandemic and this is especially important only during a pandemic to indemnify vaccine manufacturers against lawsuits for severe adverse effects or any other frivolous claims which may come about. Because that adds to the fear and also will bankrupt vaccine manufacturers or distract them if they have to just all day just fight lawsuits and explain to the media what is happening," he said.
His remarks can be seen in the context of a volunteer from Chennai has claimed a compensation of Rs 5 crore, alleging that he had developed severe neurological complications after the first dose of vaccination of Covishield. On its part, the Serum Institute of India said that it would file a case claiming damages of over Rs 100 crore.