All COVID-19 vaccines that are currently administered are novel vaccines which are made available to people through the WHOs Emergency Use Assessment and Listing Procedures (EUALs). These are a set of procedures to evaluate health products for acceptable performance, quality and safety so as to accelerate the use of these tools during the epidemic. However, because products that are used under EUAL criteria are new products, there may be risks associated with the administration of these. Therefore, the WHO advised countries to ensure fair compensation through creation of ‘no fault compensation schemes’. A ‘no-fault’ compensation allows for a payout without the need to go to court to establish who was responsible (hence ‘no-fault’). Therefore it makes the compensation process faster and cheaper.
WHO has provided funds for countries that are beneficiaries of COVID-19 vaccines through the advance market commitment scheme. However, South Africa does is not eligible for this funding, and is obliged to provide our own legislative framework for compensation. The South African Government has issued draft legislation under the Disaster Management Regulations for public comment regarding a ‘vaccine injury no fault compensation scheme’. This scheme allows individuals who have suffered an adverse event to receive monetary compensation following review and investigation of the case by NISEC. The exact details of how the South African ‘no fault compensation process’ will work are being finalised.