Written by: Pearl Kupe

The government of South Africa has, over the past several months, secured approximately 46 million vaccination doses for South African citizens. In securing the vaccination doses, the government of South Africa allegedly had to enter an agreement with the vaccine manufacturers. The agreement was to provide an exemption to the manufacturers from any liability or potential lawsuits that may arise as a result of any severe side effects that may be experienced from the vaccinations.

Question: What then would be the solution for those who experienced adverse side effects?

Answer: A no-fault compensation fund.

The Vaccine No Fault Compensation Scheme
Discussions have been held in South Africa regarding people who suffer adverse effects after receiving the covid-19 vaccinations. These discussions were conducted speedily and concluded hastily without giving the public sufficient time to comment and make input. The COVAX No Fault Compensation Programme currently being implemented is apparently the first and only global vaccine injury compensation mechanism.

It is under this programme that the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has Gazetted under section 3 and in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 regulations for COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No-fault Compensation Scheme.

Under the scheme, compensation is said to be provided to persons who suffer harm, loss, or damage as a result of vaccine injury caused by the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine administered at a registered facility within South Africa.

Who can submit a claim for compensation?
The information that has been made available states that you are entitled to submit a claim if:

  • You received an injury which falls under the category of “severe injuries resulting in permanent or significant injury, serious harm to a person’s health, other damage or death”. The Medicines and related Substances Act Fund defines a serious adverse response as “any condition caused by a medication that: requires being admitted to hospital, a prolonged period in hospital, causes persistent or significant disability, is a birth defect, is life-threatening or results in death”
  • The injury was caused by a Covid vaccine registered or approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra);
  • The vaccine was procured and distributed by the government; and
  • You were vaccinated at a government-listed vaccination site.

The Health and Finance ministers are to collaborate and set up panels of experts to determine who is eligible for compensation and other details such as which injuries and vaccines will be covered, the period of the injuries that the fund will cover, and the process relating to applications to the fund.

The citizens of South Africa will be watching with keen interest to see how this compensation scheme will be rolled out, especially with regard to those who have lost lives as a result of the vaccine. Particular interest will be paid to see whether funds attributed to this scheme will be squandered or looted.

The Vaccine injury fund is welcomed in so far as it can afford compensation to the injured. The creation of the scheme also means that there is an acknowledgement by government & WHO that there are individuals who have suffered adverse effects as a result of having received the vaccination.

The scheme also raises some very key questions, such as:

  • Will this scheme be properly administered? How long will it take to expedite payment? Will compensations be paid out timeously and expeditiously, or will there be back logs like with other funds and schemes?
  • How will the families of those who have lost their lives be compensated?
  • Will the government be transparent regarding the appointment of the panel of experts who make determinations on the compensation, IE will the public be advised on how they were selected?
  • Who will ultimately bear the brunt of paying these compensations? If it is taxpayers, why should taxpayers who do not want the vaccine, have to contribute towards the fund?
  • Are such funds not set up in instances of “clinical trial” vaccines. If so, why have governments and the WHO not stated clearly that the Covid-19 vaccines are clinical trials so that people can make informed decisions?
  • The Scheme is directly linked to the Disaster Management Act. What will happen when the Disaster management Acts operation is suspended after lockdown ends? Will compensations still be paid out?

Scheme contact details
For those interested in lodging claims, please refer to the information below:

Council for Medical Schemes, Block A Ecoglades Office Park, 420 Witch-Hazel Road, Eco Park, Centurion

Email: info@nfcfund.co.za | Telephone: 086 112 3267
Media Enquiries: Lungi Mtshali 082 088 5060

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Date published: 15/09/2021
Dr. Pearl Kupe is an attorney and international consultant to world leaders and international organisations. She is the international president of the Global Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (www.gfwe.co.za). Email pearl.kupe@gmail.com or visit www.pearlkupe.co.za

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