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Australia Morrison government grants indemnity for COVID-19 vaccine side effects

10:40  08 october  2020
10:40  08 october  2020 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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The Morrison government has given the suppliers of two COVID - 19 vaccines indemnity against liability for rare side effects that experts say are "inevitable" when a vaccine is rolled out. But the government will not set up a statutory compensation scheme, which the president of the Australian

The Morrison government has given the suppliers of two COVID - 19 vaccines indemnity against prosecution for rare side effects that experts say “With a brand new vaccine , it’s going to be really hard to tell what is a vaccine injury and what is a rare medical condition that someone would have


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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 08: Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference in the Main Committee room at Parliament House on October 08, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. Prime Minister Morrison has announced that Minister for Finance Senator Mathias Cormann will become Australia’s candidate for Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with Senator Simon Birmingham undertaking the role of Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senator Michaelia Cash will become Deputy Leader. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images

The Morrison government has given the suppliers of two COVID-19 vaccines indemnity against prosecution for rare side effects that experts say are "inevitable" when a vaccine is rolled out to 25 million Australians.

But the government will not set up a statutory compensation scheme which the president of the Australian Medical Association, Omar Khorshid, said meant Australians who suffered "extremely rare" side effects from the vaccines would face a tough battle to seek compensation.

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"With a brand new vaccine, it's going to be really hard to tell what is a vaccine injury and what is a rare medical condition that someone would have had anyway," Dr Khorshid said.

As part of its $1.7 billion deals to secure more than 84.8 million doses of the Oxford University and University of Queensland vaccines if successful, the federal government has indemnified the suppliers - meaning they cannot be held liable for adverse events caused by the vaccines.

British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is the sponsor of the Oxford University vaccine, while the University of Queensland vaccine is being marketed by Seqirus (CSL).

Plans to distribute the vaccine quickly across the population once successful phase three trials are complete mean the full safety picture will not be known when the first doses are administered.

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Are there side effects for coronavirus vaccines ? Early data suggest several of the Covid - 19 vaccine may cause people to feel crummy for a few days. Scientists anticipate that the shots will cause enervating flu-like side effects — including sore arms, muscle aches and fever — that could last days

Tuesday's federal budget assumed a nation-wide vaccination program would be rolled out next year.

But the government has rejected calls to set up a no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme, instead opting to pick up the bill for any compensation payout if a member of the public takes legal action against the drug companies.

University of Sydney Associate Professor Nick Wood, a vaccine expert who designs hospital immunisation programs, said Australians who received a COVID-19 vaccine "for the benefit of themselves and the community" deserved the reassurance of a "safety net" through a no-fault scheme in case they experienced a rare adverse reaction.

Grattan Institute health economist Stephen Duckett, a former secretary of the federal health department, agreed that such a scheme was needed, saying there would "inevitably" be some adverse events associated with the vaccines and that some may take years to appear.

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COVID - 19 vaccine makers are required by the government to monitor health problems that occur close in time to vaccination and investigate whether they are likely to be connected to a shot. "It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine are

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No-fault vaccine injury compensation schemes allow people who experience an adverse reaction to access compensation without having to convince a court that the vaccine was the cause of their injury.

Dr Duckett said safety data would continue to be collected after a COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out, giving a clearer picture over time of any adverse events, including by people in vulnerable groups such as diabetics and people with blood pressure conditions.

Professor Wood said community confidence would be vital in ensuring that there was wide enough take-up of the vaccine for it to be effective at preventing COVID-19 from spreading.

"If we get a scare and someone has a reaction, coverage will probably be hard to get up," he said.

The no-fault schemes operate in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal and Thailand.

A spokesman for the federal health department said the government was "committed to providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines" and had agreed to indemnify the drug companies due to "the need to appropriately share risks associated with achieving early access to a successful vaccine."

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usr: 10
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