India / Govt must protect vaccine makers against lawsuits: Adar Poonawalla

Zoom News : Dec 20, 2020, 07:54 AM
Pune: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said vaccine manufacturers must have protection against lawsuits for their vaccines, especially during a pandemic. The vaccine makers are going to propose this to the government, he said while speaking at a virtual panel on the challenges of developing a COVID-19 vaccine at the Carnegie India’s Global Technology Summit on Friday.

“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,” Poonawalla said. It is because when frivolous claims come up, and something is blown out of proportion in the media, skepticism sets in that definitely something can happen due to the vaccine and to dispel that, the government needs to step in to spread the right information, he added. 

“..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 fight lawsuits and explain to the media what is happening,” Poonawalla said. These are a few things that the government can do and that is what the vaccine manufacturers are going to propose, he added.

Last month, Serum had rejected charges that a 40-year-old man who took part in the ‘Covishield’ vaccine trial in Chennai had levelled against the company, alleging serious side effects, including a virtual neurological breakdown and impairment of cognitive functions. He had also sought Rs 5 crore compensation in a legal notice to Serum and others, besides seeking a halt on the trial.

Refuting the charges, Serum had said, “It is evident that the intention behind spreading of such malicious information is an oblique pecuniary motive. The Serum Institute of India, will seek damages in excess of Rs 100 crore for the same and will defend such malicious claims”.