Vaccine maker Serum waives AstraZeneca shot indemnity for refugee programme
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FRANCESCO GUARASCIO AND PUSHKALA ARIPAKA
THE Serum Institute of India (SII) has waived its protection from legal liabilities for any AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 shots it supplies to a global programme for refugees, a spokesperson for the GAVI vaccine alliance told Reuters on Wednesday.
The news comes days after Reuters reported (https://www.reuters.com/world/refugees-lack-covid-shots-because-drugmakers-fear-lawsuits-documents-2021-12-16) that tens of millions of migrants may be denied Covid-19 vaccines from the vaccine-sharing programme Covax because of concerns over who would be liable in the event of harmful side effects.
Many Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers require that countries indemnify them for any adverse events suffered by individuals as a result of the vaccines. But where governments are not in control - in the case of refugees - that is not possible.
With the waiver, SII's version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Covishield, can now be allocated to Covax’s Humanitarian Buffer (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-humanitarian-buffer-explained-a last-resort) reserve of shots to be distributed by humanitarian groups, the GAVI representative said.
SII, the world's biggest manufacturer of vaccines which also produces a version of Novavax's Covid-19 shot, declined to comment.
AstraZeneca-Serum are currently the main suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines to Covax, but are set to be displaced (https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizer-set-oust-astrazeneca-top-supplier-covid-19-shots-poor-nations-2021-12-15) by Pfizer and BioNTech at the start of 2022.
GAVI, a public-private partnership, was set up in 2000 to promote vaccination around the world. It operates Covax together with the World Health Organization to supply Covid-19 shots to poorer nations.