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No-fault Compensation Schemes for Covid-19 Vaccines

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In March of this year, we drew attention to the fact that Ireland currently does not have a compensation scheme for those who have suffered side effects following the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine. Since we published this piece, the University of Oxford has been progressing its work in mapping the characteristics and functions of no-fault compensation schemes (NFCSs). Below we have documented answers to questions we are sometimes asked about NFCSs, together with key information from the University of Oxford’s findings.

What is a Covid Vaccine No-Fault Compensation Scheme?

Covid-19 no-fault compensation schemes are programmes designed to provide compensation to individuals who have suffered harm following the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine. These schemes are intended to provide a fast and efficient way for individuals to seek compensation without having to go through the traditional legal process which, depending on the country the claimant is based in, can be complex and costly.

The purpose of the no-fault compensation scheme is to provide a safety net for individuals who experience adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine. These adverse reactions could range from mild to severe and may include hospitalisation, long-term disability, or even death.

Under a no-fault compensation scheme, individuals do not have to prove that the vaccine caused them harm. Instead, they only need to demonstrate that they received the vaccine and experienced the harm for which they are seeking compensation. The compensation is paid out by the government or a designated fund, rather than the vaccine manufacturer.

Several countries have implemented Covid-19 no-fault compensation schemes, including the United States, Canada, and several European countries. The specific details of these schemes vary by country, but they all share the common goal of providing a safety net for individuals who experience harm due to receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Who provides No-Fault Compensation Schemes for Covid-19?

Governments, humanitarian organisations, international trusts, and public health agencies are among the types of entities that administrate no-fault compensation schemes for Covid-19 and pay out compensation to individuals affected.

What is an AVAT No-Fault Compensation Scheme?

The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a platform established by the African Union (AU) to help member states procure Covid-19 vaccines. AVAT was launched in November 2020 as part of efforts to secure vaccines for the African continent, which has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Individuals in participating member states who have sustained an injury related to the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine can apply to the scheme for compensation.

What is the COVAX No-Fault Compensation Scheme?

The COVAX scheme is an NFCS established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to provide financial support to individuals who experience severe adverse events following immunisation with Covid-19 vaccines provided through the COVAX Facility.

The COVAX Facility is a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Through the COVAX Facility, participating countries can access Covid-19 vaccines regardless of their income level. The compensation scheme is funded by a small levy on the cost of each dose of the vaccine.

Low to middle-income countries are often supported by the COVAX scheme, including places such as Afghanistan, India, North Korea, and Sri Lanka. Further information and applications can be made at: covaxclaims.com.

What is the UNICEF compensation scheme?

The UNICEF compensation scheme is a no-fault compensation programme that provides financial support to individuals who experience serious adverse events following immunisation with vaccines procured and distributed by UNICEF.

The UNICEF compensation scheme is designed to provide a safety net for individuals who experience serious side effects following the administration of a vaccine procured and distributed by UNICEF. It is funded by a small levy on the cost of each dose of vaccine distributed by them. The programme is administered by UNICEF, which works with national authorities in participating countries to ensure that compensation is provided in a timely and efficient manner. Further information on this scheme can be found here.

How many countries have No-Fault Compensation Schemes?

According to research by the University of Oxford, 137 countries have NFCSs. This includes 38 countries with national schemes, and 98 countries covered by multinational schemes such as those run by AVAT, COVAX and UNICEF.

NFCS map

Which countries have schemes in place?

The map below shows countries which have at least one no-fault compensation scheme covering adverse events from Covid vaccines. Countries covered include the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland. You may also find this diagram useful, showing the overlap of compensation schemes in various countries.

Can I bring a compensation claim despite Ireland not having a scheme?

If you have sustained serious complications following the administration of a vaccine, you should take steps to issue precautionary proceedings. The team here at McCarthy + Co would be glad to offer further guidance you may be seeking in relation to your specific case. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email info@mccarthy.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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