British officials approved the rollout of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine this week by granting it emergency approval.
The vaccine has been added to the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which was formed in 1979 to reassure the public about the safety of vaccinations to prevent illnesses such as measles, smallpox and tetanus.
The Department of Health admitted on Thursday night night that COVID vaccines will be added to the scheme as a ‘precautionary step’.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: Scientists have fast tracked the development of Covid-19 vaccines prompting fears about their safety with drug companies seeking indemnities from the government ahead of the deployment.
Britain’s VDPS was set up in 1979 and covers victims of side-effects caused by common vaccines, such as those against measles, influenza, smallpox and tetanus. In 2009 the vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu was also briefly added to the list.
Under the scheme, individuals are entitled to a lump sum capped at £120,000 pounds if they can prove to have been seriously disabled as a result of a vaccination.
The scheme is meant to dissuade people from seeking compensation through lengthy and costly court proceedings, but has been criticised for the cap and its restrictive conditions.
Duncan Fairgrieve of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law: ‘The current scheme is not really adequate for the current situation. If adverse events occur, the route to compensation is too complicated. It would be much better if the government set up a bespoke scheme for COVID-19.’
Britain said it would continue to monitor the safety of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine after the country on Wednesday became the first in the Western world to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
The emergency use authorisation does not include liabilities, however, unlike a conditional approval granted by the European Union.
According to the Department of Health: ‘No safety concerns have been reported in vaccines authorised for use following rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness by experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
‘Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is now the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorised for use in the UK, and the MHRA will keep safety under continual review.’
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: ‘We are extremely confident in the effectiveness and safety of our immunisation programmes.
‘We will not be rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine unless it has met robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality and authorised for use by the medicines regulator, the MHRA.
‘The UK has one of the most comprehensive immunisation programmes in the world, and sensible routine precautions such as these form a huge part of our global-leading standards in safety.’
According to the details of the scheme, someone eligible for the £120,000 tax free payment will have had to suffered at least a 60 per cent disability.
Victims will have to make a claim and show on the balance of probabilities that there is a casual link between the vaccine and their disability.
Claims will have to be made through the Department of Work and Pensions.