Since 1988, the federal government has paid out approximately $4.43 billion to 7,611 people who were injured by different kinds of vaccines, such as vaccines for the flu, HPV, tetanus and even polio. People harmed by these vaccines were able to turn to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which was set up by Congress in 1986 to prevent drug companies from dissolving their companies over concerns about liabilities.
The VICP reviews cases for claims through a special court popularly known to lawyers as the “vaccine court.” This court gives out an average of $582,000 for every successful claim.
Unfortunately, people participating in coronavirus vaccine trials cannot turn to the VICP. Instead, people harmed by vaccines during trials have to go through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). This is a program set up in 2010 specifically to deal with vaccines and other countermeasures developed in response to a major public health or security risks, such as for pandemics or an outbreak of anthrax or Ebola.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the CICP will be used to compensate people who sustain injuries from COVID-19 vaccines. Doing so, however, gives drug companies immunity from liability lawsuits.
Furthermore, experts say that the CICP has a tougher threshold that claimants need to cross in order to prove that they were harmed by the vaccine. Not only does it have a shorter statute of limitations, but claimants are also not allowed to file appeals and the CICP does not give payouts for pain and suffering.
Since it was established, the CICP has only paid out $6 million to 29 approved claimants, averaging around $207,000 per person. (Related: Coronavirus vaccine trial subjects report extreme exhaustion, shortness of breath, day-long headaches and shaking so violently that one of them cracked a tooth.)
Now that there are dozens of COVID-19 vaccine trials occurring all over the world, the need for a program that can substantially compensate people injured by the vaccines is very important. In the United States alone, several participants have already been harmed by vaccines on trial.
British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had to halt its coronavirus vaccine trial when one of its participants suffered spinal cord damage. British regulators halted the study for several weeks before allowing it to resume. The company’s vaccine trials in the U.S. remain halted as the Food and Drug Administration continues to investigate the incident.
During one trial of American biotech company Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, about 40 percent of the participants, who were between the ages of 18 and 55, started experiencing a fever after they received the second shot of a two-injection regimen. Furthermore, around 80 percent of the participants experienced chills.
Ian Hayden, one of the participants, said that the fever and chills became so severe that he had to be treated at an urgent-care facility.
Moderna is arguing that the fever and chills are signs that the experimental vaccine is working.
Many other people receiving experimental COVID-19 vaccines have experienced injection-site pain, chills and fatigue. Johnson & Johnson had to pause their phase III vaccine trials when one of the participants started developing a still-unexplained illness.
The drug companies developing vaccines claim that the side effects from their drugs are “mild or moderate,” and that a majority of the people taking their experimental vaccines have tolerated it very well.
Find out more about how COVID-19 vaccines are being developed by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.