Govt still willing to compensate for Covid vaccine side effects

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A health worker participates in a simulation for COVID-19 vaccination in preparation for its arrival, at an elementary school turned vaccination command center in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The national government will pay compensation to those who would suffer from possible adverse effects of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines unless there is “willful misconduct” and “gross negligence” on the part of private entities, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this clarification after President Rodrigo Duterte described as “illegal” for private companies to be free from liability for possible adverse effects of Covid-19 vaccines procured under tripartite agreements.

Roque said Duterte was actually referring to Section 8 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.

“Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, public officials and employees, contractors, manufacturers, volunteers and representatives of duly authorized private entities who are duly authorized to carry out and are actually carrying out the Covid-19 Vaccination Program shall be immune from suit and liability under Philippine laws with respect to all claims arising out of, related to, or resulting from the administration or use of a Covid-19 vaccine under the Covid-19 Vaccination Program except arising from willful misconduct and gross negligence,” Section 8 of the law reads.

Roque said Duterte was not confused as some news reports claimed but simply reiterated his refusal to free the private sector of any liability.

The President is saying that it cannot be that the private sector will have no liability, this is stated in the law that even if the government will pay compensation for side effects, there are two exceptions here. If there is willful misconduct and gross negligence,” Roque said.

Roque also emphasized the importance of private entities entering into a tripartite agreement with the national government and vaccine manufacturers since Covid-19 vaccines are not yet commercially available in the market.

Covid-19 vaccines are not being sold commercially. They don’t have certificate of product registration. They only have an emergency use authorization [EUA] and because of this the private sector cannot purchase vaccines from manufacturers without the government being involved,” he said.

Citing the Covid-19 Vaccination Law, Roque said the national government will have to be involved because the law establishes a P500-million indemnification fund for those who may show adverse side effects after getting the shot.

The government is involved because we have a law, this Covid-19 Vaccination Program that states that the government will pay compensation to those who will experience side effects from vaccines with EUA,” he added.

He said Duterte’s statement stemmed from concerns that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. was allegedly preventing private entities from purchasing Covid-19 vaccines.

The President said it’s not true that we’re preventing them from buying vaccines because there were complaints that Sec. Galvez was prohibiting the purchase of vaccines. That’s not true. In fact, we’re encouraging the private sector to purchase vaccines. The reality is they can’t purchase them without involvement of the national government,” he said.

The Covid-19 Vaccination Law, which Duterte signed last February 26, provides a legal framework for the vaccination program, including the participation of private entities in that effort.

The P500-million indemnification fund will be sourced from the 2021 national budget’s Contingent Fund and administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

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