Angara: COVID-19 indemnity law only seeks to free vaccine makers from liability

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday said the indemnity provision of the bill proposing to fast track the procurement of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines is meant only to free vaccine manufacturers from any liability should their products cause side effects.

Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Angara stressed that the inclusion of such provision is not in anticipation that Filipinos will develop such side effects.  The indemnification fund will just be a guarantee  that the government would be ready to shoulder the responsibility in case of any possible untoward event that would happen in administering the vaccine.

  “The indemnification is just something the manufacturers want to secure to make sure that if someone gets sick because of the vaccine, it would be the government that purchased the vaccine that would accept responsibility,” Angara said in an interview over Radio DZBB.

Angara pointed out that since vaccine development usually takes up to Phase 4 clinical trials, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already given emergency use authority for some vaccines even without completing all phases.

“This indemnity is what the manufacturers were asking from us, because they know that these vaccines were manufactured in a rush and the government is asking it because we are in an emergency situation, we are under a pandemic,” he pointed out.

Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2057, said this does not mean Filipinos will definitely develop serious side effects when they take the vaccines.

“This was only asked by some manufacturers that sell the vaccines especially those that are under the COVAX facility,” he said.

The measure primarily seeks to expedite the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines by empowering local government units (LGUs) to make advance payments to purchase the vaccines. The same bill also seeks to establish a P500-million national indemnity fund to compensate inoculated persons who would experience serious side effects or, possibly, death.