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Home / News / India /  Covid vaccine: Serum Institute of India seeks indemnity

Serum Institute of India (SII), the company producing the AstraZeneca Covishield doses, has sought legal protection from any claims linked to the use of their Covid-19 vaccines, reported news agency ANI on Thursday.

India has so far not given any manufacturer of a Covid-19 vaccine indemnity against the costs of compensation for any severe side effects.

The development comes a day after reports of the Indian government leaning in favour of granting indemnity to Pfizer and Moderna started doing rounds.

Quoting government sources, reports stated that like other countries, the Indian government will also grant indemnity to the companies if they apply for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).

Following this, ANI quoted a source as saying that all manufacturers should be given legal protection if the government agrees to foreign companies' request.

"Not just Serum Institute of India (SII), all the vaccine companies should get indemnity protection against liabilities if foreign companies are granted the same," said the source.

The country is currently using Covishield -- manufactured by SII -- and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for its Covid-19 vaccination drive. Russian Sputnik V is the third vaccine to get approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use.

No Indian company has paid indemnity

As companies engage with the government over possible legal protection, a former senior ICMR official has said that no company in India's vaccination history has ever paid indemnity.

The government, which is the biggest user of vaccines, has also not done it, he said.

"No Indian company has ever paid indemnity in India's vaccination history, and neither the government, the biggest vaccine user, has done that. Even deaths after Covid-19 vaccination have not come under this umbrella," former ICMR chief Dr Nirmal K Ganguly told ANI.

He said there is a risk-benefit ratio in vaccination and benefits far more outweigh any risks.

"In vaccination, risk-benefit ratio works. Even if there is one serious adverse effect in a million, the benefit to the community at large is more than if you don't vaccinate them," he said.

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