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Gov’t agrees not to file suits in case of vaccine side effects

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PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE government has agreed not to press charges against coronavirus vaccine makers in case of injuries, according to the presidential palace.

The government would assume responsibility for the emergency use of their vaccines under so-called indemnification agreements, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Wednesday.

Among those covered by the waivers are Pfizer, Inc. and Astrazeneca Plc, he said.

“All of the manufacturers are requiring an indemnity agreement in all the contracts we’re signing,” he said. “Nondisclosure and indemnity were included there.”

The lack of an indemnification plan has hindered the delivery of the first 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines under a global initiative for equal access, Mr. Galvez said, citing the concerns of foreign drug makers about the country’s past experience with its dengue immunization program.

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Sanofi Pasteur, a French pharmaceutical giant, was sued after several Filipino children died supposedly due to the side effects of its dengue vaccine CYD-TDV, sold under the brand name Dengvaxia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 said the dengue vaccine should not be given to people who have not been infected with the dengue virus.

At the same briefing, Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the Senate would fast-track the passage of the proposed Vaccination Program Act, which will set up a P500-million indemnity fund to compensate potential victims who may experience side effects.

“If the government still needs funds, they can take it from the contingency fund of the General Appropriations Act, which is about P13 billion,” he said.

Mr. Zubiri said senators failed to pass Senate Bill 2057 on first reading on Tuesday after resource persons who were supposed to answer questions about the measure failed to show up.

Senators were expected to approve the bill later in the day, he said. They expect to ratify the measure by Monday and submit it to the presidential palace for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature, he added.

The bill also empowers local governments to make advance payments for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines and other supplies for up to 50% of their target population, in cooperation with the Department of Health (DoH) and National Task Force Against COVID-19.

DoH reported 1,184 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 553,424. The death toll rose by 53 to 11, 577, while recoveries increased by 271 to 512,033, it said in a bulletin.

There were 29, 814 active cases, 2.6% of which were critical, 85.4% were mild, 8.5% did not show symptoms, 2.6% were severe and 0.83% were moderate.”

DOH said two cases had been removed from the tally, while four more were reclassified as recoveries. Thirty cases tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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