COVID-19: ECOWAS recommends compensation for vaccine side effects, injury

  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Vaccine Taskforce has recommended compensation for citizens who suffer side effects or injury from the COVID-19 vaccination.Prof. Stanley Okolo, the Director-General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO),  disclosed this at the  5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project on Saturday in Abuja.

Okolo said that the recommendation was one of the resolutions adopted by the taskforce and presented to the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee to encourage citizens to receive the vaccine.

He explained during the REDISSE virtual meeting that the issue of indemnity was being taken up by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to the vaccine, led by Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organisation, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, among others.

The WAHO chief said “normally,  vaccine development takes five years or even seven, or eight years. Now therefore, we have to think of how to share the indemnity in terms of if any problem develops. 

“That is one of the issues now being taken up by COVAX, the global body set up by WHO, GAVI,  to look at how they indemnify some of the companies regarding the vaccines they supplied.

“It is not so much as indemnify but making sure there are reasoned claims against the companies. 

“In addition, member countries,  whether in Africa, West Africa, Europe or Asia, have to think about the supplementary or residual indemnity for their people and that’s one of the things the ECOWAS Vaccines Taskforce is discussing.

“We have already shared the issue with the 5th Ministerial Coordinating Committee and one of the resolutions is that member countries should watch out for any significant side effects or injury.

“We haven’t seen that yet in countries that are vaccinated widely, but member states should look to compensate affected citizens.”

Okolo explained that the objective of the Regional Steering Committee meeting was to assess the implementation of the REDISSE project, evaluate progress achieved toward meeting the objectives, and make recommendations for enhanced implementation for greater results.

According to him, the implementation of the recommendations of the last Regional Steering Committee meeting held in Lome on Nov. 2, 2019 will be assessed. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some participants attended the meeting virtually due to the current surge of COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

The meeting took the form of a short presentation of the Technical Committee’s report, followed by discussions, summaries and recommendations, chaired by the WAHO director general. (NAN)