WHO Launches Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: WHO
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: WHO

The programme will offer eligible individuals in AMC-eligible countries and economies a fast, fair, robust and transparent process to receive compensation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB), through ESIS Inc., a Chubb company, signed an agreement on behalf of the COVAX Facility on 17 February 2021 for the administration of a no-fault compensation programme for the 92 low- and middle-income countries and economies eligible for support via the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of the COVAX Facility.

As the first and only vaccine injury compensation mechanism operating on an international scale, the programme will offer eligible individuals in AMC-eligible countries and economies a fast, fair, robust and transparent process to receive compensation for rare but serious adverse events associated with COVAX-distributed vaccines until 30 June 2022.

By providing a no-fault lump-sum compensation in full and final settlement of any claims, the COVAX programme aims to significantly reduce the need for recourse to the law courts, a potentially lengthy and costly process.

ESIS, as the independent administrator of the programme, was selected in accordance with WHO’s procurement rules and procedures, and charges no fees to applicants. All vaccines procured or distributed through the COVAX Facility receive regulatory approval or an emergency use authorization to confirm their safety and efficacy.

But, as with all medicines, even vaccines that are approved for general use may, in rare cases, cause serious adverse reactions.

“The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has been matched by the largest ever rollout of new vaccines under the ACT-Accelerator and its vaccines pillar, COVAX. This no-fault compensation mechanism helps to ensure that people in AMC-eligible countries and economies can benefit from the cutting-edge science that has delivered Covid-19 vaccines in record time,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We are pleased to be collaborating with Chubb, which has the capabilities to support the COVAX facility through its global network and claims handling ability. WHO’s agreement with Chubb offers further protection and confidence in the life-saving power of vaccines.”

The COVAX no-fault compensation programme will be operationalized through its web portal by 31 March 2021, which will include resources such as the programme’s protocol, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and information on how to submit an application.

Eligible individuals may apply for compensation under the programme once the portal becomes operational, even if a COVAX-distributed vaccine is administered to them before 31 March 2021.

The programme is financed initially through Gavi COVAX AMC donor funding, calculated as a levy charged on all doses of Covid-19 vaccines distributed through the COVAX Facility to the AMC eligible economies until 30 June 2022.

WHO is working with Chubb to secure insurance coverage for the programme with Chubb as lead insurer. The delivery of vaccines during 2021 will be the fastest and largest global deployment of novel vaccines in history. 

The COVAX Facility aims, by the end of 2021, to deliver at least 2 billion doses of safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines to all participating countries, including at least 1.3 billion doses to the 92 AMC-eligible countries and economies, at the same time as wealthier nations.

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Rakesh Raman