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Complaints of adverse impacts due to COVID vaccine should be settled efficiently

By Bharat Dogra 

In recent weeks it has been proved beyond doubt that mass COVID vaccination among women and girls has led to a massive disruption of menstrual cycle and more particularly to excess bleeding among them. A scientific paper that has been widely cited in this context is titled ‘Invesigating trends in those who experience menstrual bleeding changes after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination’. This paper authored by Katherine M.N.Lee et al was published in ‘Science Advances’ dated 15 July, 2022. According to this survey, as many as 42% of those with regular menstrual cycle bled more heavily than usual. Earlier in March another paper in the International journal of Women’s Health written by Nadia Muhaidat had reportd tht 66 per cent of women had experienced menstrual abnormalities after vaccination. In September 2021 the British Medical Journal had proposed that a link between excessive bleeding and COVID vaccination was plausible, adding that such complaints are being increasingly received by doctors.
Now that this link has been well established, questions arise as to whether this information should not have been provided before the vaccination so that a better-informed choice could have been made. Secondly, at least in the case of those who have suffered more harm, are they not entitled to some sort of compensation?
The strong ethical as well as legal base of providing adequate compensation to all those persons who suffer harm from side-effects of medicines, treatments, vaccines and mass medical interventions is well-established. However despite being a widely recognized principle, this has been frequently violated and these violations have increased in recent times due to the ever increasing power of big multinational pharmaceutical companies. Due to their immense power it has become increasingly difficult to legally and technically establish adverse impact (or a precise cause and effect relationship) even though many, many complaints from suffering people are being voiced.
In this context it is interesting and useful to know that Thailand paid $45 million ( 1500 million baht) to 12,714 persons during 10 months in COVID vaccine injury claims. March 2022. This could happen because Thailand set up a well-administered system to receive and settle such claims. This covers payments made up to March 8 2022, with 891 complaints pending and 875 appeals pending at that time.
The data relating to these claims shows that in most cases complaints of adverse impacts arising due to COVID vaccine were accepted and settled in an efficient way. 2328 claims were rejected. In the case of rejection appeals were allowed and over 800 had been settled already. Complaints can be made till about 2 years, and so there is room for some relatively longer-term impacts to be covered too.
This system was established by the Thailand National Health Security Office and started operating from May 19, 2021. At that time an amount of 3 million dollars or 100 million baht was provided for this fund, but soon this had to be increased as the claims of vaccine injuries were simply too high. Already the amount paid till early March 2022 was nearly 15 times of the original size of the fund.
The claims have been processed roughly on this basis—
Category 1--Death or permanent disability—400,000 baht ($11,928)
Category 2—Disability that affects livelihood, loss of a limb—240,000 baht ($ 7,157)
Category 3—Other injuries or illnesses as a result of Vaccine—various amounts up to a maximum of $100,000 baht ( $2,982).
The administration of this compensatory regime has triggered a debate in other countries like the USA regarding why such compensation has still not been provided to victims there. While a very large number of post-vaccine adverse impacts have been recorded here, the main argument for denying compensation has been that cause and effect relationship has not been established yet. But critics have questioned-- how can such a relationship be definitely established unless the complaint is pursued adequately? By not investigating complaints in detail how can the authorities simply say cause and effect is not established. You cannot make a problem vanish just by refusing to explore or investigate it further.
According to the officially recognized Vaccine Adverse System Recording System (VAERS) of the USA, till March 4 2022, following COVID-19 vaccines, 1168,894 adverse events, 25,128 deaths and 46,515 cases of permanent disability have been recorded. It should also be noted that the adverse events including deaths recorded under VAERS for COVID vaccine are several times more than the adverse events recorded for all other vaccines. A somewhat similar trend has been seen in several European countries as well. However in many countries reliable data is just not available.
The record of various countries in the context of compensation is also different, and the much more common response has been to deny any compensatory payments. This is clearly unjust. As stated at the outset, the principle of compensating those who suffer from adverse impacts of vaccines and medicines is well established in law and ethics, but it is nevertheless widely violated.
It has been suggested that the Thailand system of compensatory payments could progress only because it avoids fixing blame and there is no provision for punitive actions or fixing specific accountability for the damage suffered.
The most basic concern should be for the truth to be known widely and to try to ensure that any product that brings more harm than benefit can be avoided. This involves research and action at various levels. The Thailand system does not cover this entire ground but nevertheless, its limited success in at least establishing a compensatory system that works for the victims should be appreciated.
There has been a big controversy regarding extension of COVID vaccines to children and adolescents and thousands of doctors and medical scientists including very eminent ones have questioned this at world level. Even some of those involved in the official vaccination campaign at senior levels in India had questioned the desirability of this at an initial stage. One should re-emphasize the need for great caution in this context as several possible adverse impacts have been pointed out and some of these are of a longer-term nature as well.
Efforts should be made to spread more public consciousness regarding safety aspects. As long as vaccines were entirely driven by science, there was hardly any cause for worry, but in recent years generation of record profits and involvement of billionaires in the multinational companies has increased the need for caution. The same billionaires are involved in so-called philanthropic organizations and as donors to leading international agencies and hence governments have to be very cautious to protect the health of their people and to avoid being saddled with massive compensation payments. Caution should be the first principle but if a mistake is nevertheless made resulting in health harm for several people, then compensation should be paid.
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The writer is Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘Man over Machine', ‘A Day in 2071’ and ‘Planet in Peril'

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