Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned on Tuesday that any COVID-19 vaccine could lead to side-effects in some people, as even popular medicines do, and that the government would only go by science in finalising one for the country.
The comments came ahead of the possible launch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by early next year in India, the country with the world’s second-highest number of coronavirus infections after the United States.
The question of who pays any claims for damages for unexpected side-effects has been a tricky point in supply negotiations between countries and drug makers over potential vaccines. Some richer countries have agreed full or partial exemptions from liability for firms to secure shots.
The officials have not commented on who would be held responsible if any vaccine led to serious unwanted consequences. Brazil has said it will not exempt vaccine makers from liability, but Mexico could share some of the burden with laboratories.
PM Modi said both speed and safety were equally important in launching a vaccine, but that, once established scientific processes had determined the right path, India would follow it.
“Even medicines popular for 20 years and used by hundreds of thousands of people lead to reactions in some, even today,” PM Modi said in a video conference with the chief ministers.