The Government of India is in a deadlock with Pfizer with the US drugmaker over its unfair demand seeking waiver of legal liabilities arising from adverse effects linked to Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer.

Notably, India has not given any manufacturer of a COVID-19 vaccine indemnity against the costs of compensation for any severe side effects. People advocating Pfizer vaccines in India over the more effective indigenous Bharat biotech Covaxin vaccines should answer whether they agree to these unethical principles of the US drugmaker interested in just profiteering, while washing away its legal responsibilities.

Pertinenly, Pfizer has set draconian terms with other third world countries for supplying vaccines during a raging pandemic. It went to the extent of asking countries like Argentina, Brazil etc. to mortgage their State assets and bank reserves as collateral.

The Wion News reported that, Pfizer demanded from Argentina to make laws to waive its liability for adverse effects of Covid vaccines. Which Argentina did in order to get the vaccines it badly needed to protect its citizens from Covid. But, Pfizer wasn’t happy as the Argentinian law did not protect any negligence on the part of Pfizer. So, Pfizer refused and came up with more demands and unscrupulously asked for sovereign assets as collateral. Pfizer wanted Argentina to put its bank reserves, military bases and embassy buildings at stake.

Vaccine manufacturers enjoy certain amount of liability waiver. For instance if anyone who gets vaccinated by Pfizer and suffers adverse effects because of the jab, they can file a lawsuit against Pfizer for compensation. If they win the case against Pfizer, the government compensates them in many countries like US, Britain etc.

In the United States for example, the PREP Act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness act) gives total immunity to companies like Pfizer and Moderna.

But compensation by government id done only if something goes wrong unintentionally, and does not apply to negligence. But Pfizer wanted more from Argentina. It sought sovereign assets and even a fraud insurance, which Argentina did not agree with.

The Wion reported that in Brazil Pfizer made the following unconscionable demands – Brazil waives the sovereignty of its assets abroad in favour of Pfizer, that the rules of the land be not applied on Pfizer, that Brazil take into consideration a delay in delivery, that Pfizer is not penalised for a delayed delivery, and that in case of any side effects, Pfizer be exempted from all civil liability. The government of Brazil called these clauses abusive. The Pfizer deal with Brazil failed too.

India should not accept unconscionable and abusive demands from Pfizer over waiver of liability which other Covid vaccine suppliers have not been given. Moreover waiver from negligence and fraud are highly unethical and abusive demands which should not be agreed to.

Another sore point between Pfizer and Government of India is Pfizer’s refusal for local trial for safety before government approval was the Indian government’s insistence on a local trial for any vaccine approval.

According to the Indian Express, Pfizer withdrew its application for emergency use authorisation for the vaccine developed with Germany’s BioNTech in February after India insisted on such a trial.

But three other vaccines on sale in India, developed by AstraZeneca (AZN.L), Russia’s Sputnik V and Bharat Biotech in collaboration with state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, have completed the small-scale safety trials. Then what makes Pfizer special? India should not give in to the illegal and unethical demands by the big Pharma terrorists who like to make hay, make profit without any accountability during a pandemic.

Image sourced from: Indian Express

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