THE National Task Force Against Covid-19 has expressed its reservations over granting blanket immunity to vaccine manufacturers, a stand that the Senate minority leader has backed, as giving blanket immunity is “against the law and contrary to public policy.”
During the televised public address of President Duterte on Wednesday evening, Chief implementer of the government’s national policy on Covid-19 Carlito G. Galvez revealed they want manufacturers to be still held liable for “malpractice and willful neglect” if they deliver defective vaccines.
He noted while the government is willing to grant the manufacturers’ demand to shoulder the indemnity for people who suffer adverse effects from vaccine use, they cannot absolve the pharmaceutical firms for all possible cases.
“They should also be fair and maintain the specifications required in delivering the vaccines, which are safe and effective,” Galvez said.
Galvez revealed late Wednesday the government cannot give blanket immunity out of concerns over possible malpractices and willful misconduct.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the version of the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act passed earlier this week by lawmakers, vaccine manufacturers are “immune from suits for claims arising out of the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine, but not for willful
misconduct or gross negligence.”
Section 8 of the said measure provides that “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, related to, or resulting from the administration or use of a Covid-19 vaccine under the…vaccination program except arising from willful misconduct and gross negligence.”
The former justice and executive secretary explained that any vaccinee can file claims for damages, based on the vaccine manufacturers’ liabilities arising from willful misconduct and gross negligence. “It is part of their individual and private rights that cannot be set aside by the government,” he said.
Drilon said that the approved measure provides for an indemnity fund.
“The government set up a P500-million indemnity fund to compensate any person inoculated through the vaccination program. The fund will take care of the costs for deaths, permanent disabilities and hospital confinements caused by vaccination,” Drilon said.
Earlier, some vaccine manufacturers reportedly sought total immunity from any liability, especially since their vaccines were only issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by regulatory agencies. The EUA was given because the vaccines are being rolled out in an urgent bid to stop the spread of Covid-19, even though the manufacturers have yet to complete all the necessary phases of their respective clinical trials.
Galvez noted they had expressed their position on the possible accountability of vaccine makers before lawmakers when they were still drafting the Covid-19 Vaccination Program bill.
The bill, approved on third and final reading by both chambers, will be sent to the President for signing into law. It will provide protection not only to manufacturers but also to vaccine recipients, according to the vaccine czar.
It is also expected to contain an P500-million indemnity fund, to be lodged with the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).