Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

How UN Immunity Can Endanger Global Health

When unusual diseases like Ebola or cholera emerge, vaccines can be crucial but companies often worry about the risk of liability for adverse side effects. Organizations like the WHO and UN are protected against such liability but when they fail to live up to the obligations tied with their immunity, like the UN has done in the Haiti cholera case, that rightly increases people’s concerns and hesitation.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

The Ebola Vaccine, Iatrogenic Injuries, and Legal Liability

Amir Attaran and Kumanan Wilson, PLoS Medicine
December 1, 2015

Summary Points

  • The development and eventual deployment of an Ebola vaccine was delayed for various technical and financial reasons, but with the apparent success of a vaccine candidate in a recently reported clinical trial, an urgent problem is the lack of any system to protect vaccine firms from the risks of legal liability caused by vaccine-related injuries.
  • Without indemnity or security against the legal risks, vaccine firms are less likely to engage in research and development of vaccines, particularly for rare diseases of poor countries such as Ebola.
  • WHO’s traditional method of mitigating the legal risks through indemnification agreements with countries appears too slow to implement in urgent pandemic situations. Also, the enforceability of any WHO-backed legal agreement is placed in doubt because the United Nations has the option to claim immunity from lawsuits.
  • Creating a compensation system for vaccine injuries, based on no-fault principles and, most likely, overseen by the World Bank, could address the liability concerns and facilitate getting novel vaccines into clinical trials and to the market. This system would also ensure that recipients of these vaccines are fairly compensated in the rare instances that they are harmed.


Click HERE for the full text.

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