Government reaches consensus on setting up Covid vaccine damages fund
The Reform/Center coalition has reached agreement on setting up a coronavirus vaccine damages fund, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday evening.
Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said that the measures would cover those who had suffered either permanent damage to their health or incapacity to work, as the result of a coronavirus vaccination.
Kiik said that the fund would cover serious side-effects from the vaccinations, as against instances of medical negligence in administering inoculations.
He said: "These are two slightly different issues, since the patient insurance system, meaning compulsory liability insurance for healthcare institutions, means that a person can be compensated in the case of a medical error. In the case of vaccine damage, we are talking about the liability in the case of a serious side effect.
The fund is being processed together with the establishment of a patient insurance system to cover negligence, he added.
The government plans to send the necessary draft legislation later this year, Kiik said. There are seven weeks left in 2021, while the Riigikogu's last working day before Christmas is Thursday, December 16.
Opposition MP and former health minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) said that such a patient insurance system and scope for compensation is a necessity, but in a much broader context than simply medical negligence in issuing coronavirus vaccinations.
Sikkut said: "In my opinion, it is essential that a patient gets compensation quickly - however we term it, but compensation could be much wider than just for vaccines - in fact, it could cover any type of negative or unexpected health outcomes that can hit us."
Opposition party Isamaa, which also supports the idea and has drafted a bill of its own, says that it does not have an overview of the government's planned fund.
Isamaa's Riigikogu group chair Priit Sibul told AK: "I think there are other health issues at present, even those we haven't been able to address or find a political agreement on in the past 30 years to address and link them in any way. I think is mere demonstration of the fact that this government has no interest in dealing with either."
Tanel Kiik told AK that serious side effects from Covid vaccines are extremely rare, as evidenced by data from over 20 European and other countries.
This means that the valued payouts for damages would probably come to a few hundred thousand euros in a year, across cases numbering in the dozens, or as an extreme, in the hundreds, Kiik said.
The government wants to present the legislative amendments on both issues – side effects and medical negligence – in the one package, Kiik added.
While the Center Party had proposed a vaccine damages fund already earlier this month, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) had initially opposed it, on the grounds of it sending out the wrong signal to society about the efficacy of the vaccination program.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte