Persons who suffer side effects from COVID-19 vaccine should be compensated, says ECOWAS

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Vaccines Taskforce has recommended that persons who suffer any side effects as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination should be compensated.

The Director-General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), Stanley Okolo, made this known at the 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Programme (REDISSE) held virtually on Saturday.

Okolo said this is one of the resolutions adopted by the task force and presented to the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee to encourage people to accept the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Normally, vaccine development takes five years or even, seven, eight years. Now, therefore, we have to think of how to share the indemnity in terms of if any problem develops,” Okolo said.

He said the issue of indemnity is being taken up by COVAX, an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), to ensure equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low-and middle-income countries.

“That is one of the issues now being taken up by COVAX, the global body that has been set up by WHO to look at how they indemnify some of the companies regarding the vaccines they supplied.”

“It’s not so much as indemnify but making sure there are reasoned claims against the companies.”

Mr. Okolo said member countries in every part of the world have to think about supplementary indemnity for their citizens.

He, however, noted that no side effects have been reported in countries that are vaccinating widely.

“One of the resolutions is that member countries should ensure that they support so that if there is any significant side effects or injury, that member states should look to compensate those citizens.”

Okolo added that the objective of the Regional Steering Committee meeting was to assess the implementation of the REDISSE project, evaluate progress achieved towards meeting project objectives, and make recommendations for enhancing the implementation and achieving the objectives.

REDISSE is an interdependent series of projects to strengthen national, regional, and cross-sectoral capacity for integrated disease surveillance and response in West Africa.

The programme supports 11 countries in West Africa: Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone (REDISSE Phase 1); Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria (REDISSE Phase 2); and Benin, Niger, Mauritania, Mali (REDISSE Phase 3). REDISSE Phase 4 expanded the programme to five countries in Central Africa (Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

WAHO serves as a regional coordination and implementation agency and the Program Secretariat for the countries of West Africa and Mauritania.