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Pfizer asked South Africa to pay for potential lawsuits before securing vaccines

Christian Fernsby |
Pfizer asked South Africa, among a few other countries, to accept indemnity clauses in contract proposals for securing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines.

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Topics: PFIZER    SOUTH AFRICA   

These clauses would indemnify Pfizer against lawsuits relating to the usage of its vaccines.

South Africa was one of a few middle-income countries that were told to put up assets which “could include federal bank reserves, embassy buildings or military bases”, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ). Pfizer hoped that these countries would bear the costs of lawsuits and damages if vaccine recipients have complications.

The BIJ reported that its interrogations of unredacted draft contracts between Pfizer and two other countries revealed that the pharmaceutical company wanted to protect itself against unfortunate eventualities in the supply chain “including packaging, manufacturing and storage”.

Pfizer, who initially defended the plan to force an indemnity clause has so far reneged on this in their dealings with South Africa. On behalf of his government, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, disclosed last week that his government was “relieved” by this.

“As [a] government, we found ourselves in a precarious position of having to choose between saving our citizens’ lives and risking putting the country’s assets into private companies’ hands,” Mkhize told a parliamentary committee. He pointed out that the proposal had “posed a potential risk to our assets”.


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