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In April, the U.S. government’s Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) approved its first three payments to people injured by COVID-19 vaccines. As of Aug. 1, that number has grown — from three to four.
According to HRSA, 12,025 COVID-19 vaccine injury claims so far have been filed. Of these, 1,138 decisions have been made, including 1,109 denials and 29 “found eligible for compensation.” Another 10,887 claims are “pending review or in review.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a total of 1,591,249 reports of adverse events — including 36,135 reports of deaths — following COVID-19 vaccines have been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) between Dec. 14, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2023.
VAERS historically has been shown to report only 1% of actual vaccine adverse events.
Since 2010, when it approved its first claim, CICP has compensated a total of 34 claims for vaccine injuries, including the first four awards for COVID-19 vaccines.
Wayne Rohde, author of “The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program” and “The Vaccine Court 2.0,” said it was “ridiculous” that CICP has paid only four claims, which he said are actually “reimbursements,” not “compensation.”
“They reimbursed people for medical expenses that these people incurred that they couldn’t claim from insurance or whatever, unreimbursed medical expenses,” Rohde told The Defender. “But they don’t compensate so far for COVID-19 injuries, for the actual injury either. There’s no such thing as pain and suffering in this program,” he said.
Writing on Substack, Rohde said the U.S. is “falling behind” countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, which have offered more generous compensation for COVID-19 vaccine injuries.
The South Korean government recently announced it will offer “condolence money” to the families of those who died within 90 days of COVID-19 vaccination. The Taiwanese government has paid NT$153 million (US$4.79 million) in vaccine injury claims, despite having processed less than half of pending claims.
‘You are on your own’ in navigating CICP program
Legal experts told The Defender the CICP program is structured to make it difficult for injury claim applications to be approved.
Kim Mack Rosenberg, acting general counsel for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), said, “CICP is what is known as a ‘payor of last resort.’ That means CICP may pay when other means of compensation, such as health insurance, have paid what they may be obligated to cover.”
“Moreover, CICP only pays for unreimbursed medical expenses considered both reasonable and necessary. As we know, many injured by COVID-19 injections have not found help with either diagnosis or treatment of their injuries and resulting conditions from the usual practitioners or treatment options covered by health insurance.
“Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to demonstrate — even where successful — that these expenses are reasonable and necessary.”
CICP does not cover attorney fees, resulting in potentially “limited access to the assistance of an attorney” for many claimants, Rosenberg said.
“In CICP, in almost all instances, you are on your own in navigating the program,” she added.
Ray Flores, senior counsel for CHD, told The Defender that CICP is not a well-known program, and “it is nearly impossible to obtain any recovery.”
“What has been paid out so far [for COVID-19 vaccine injuries] is nothing short of an insult to the severely injured or the families of the deceased,” he said.
The administrative process used by CICP also means that no information regarding successful claims is shared with the public, other than the payment amounts.
CICP differs from another vaccine injury compensation program operated by the HRSA, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which handles injury claims for 16 common vaccines on the childhood vaccination schedule.
VICP has awarded more than $4 billion in claims for medical bills, lost wages, lawyer fees and pain and suffering.
However, CICP is the only program that covers COVID-19 vaccine injuries. It was established under the PREP Act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act) of 2005, which was developed to coordinate response to a “public health emergency.”
Rohde said VICP was set up only to process claims for vaccines that are fully licensed. COVID-19 vaccines were distributed under an Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act — as were treatments such as remdesivir and ventilators.
The PREP Act also provides a liability shield for the COVID-19 vaccines, which will remain in place through Dec. 31, 2024, if it isn’t subsequently extended.
Rohde noted that in one instance, a COVID-19 vaccine injury claim to CICP “was deemed compensable, but since they did not have any listed medical expenses,” the claimant was told they would not receive any reimbursement.
“This is just how pathetic our program is compared to other countries,” he said.
Flores said that rather than dealing with the cumbersome CICP claims process and the low likelihood of success, “workers’ compensation is the simplest way to seek compensation and to deter employer vaccine mandates.”
Rohde said that “sooner or later, the COVID-19 vaccines will enter into the VICP.” If and when this occurs, “people would be able to submit a petition and actually secure an attorney and would be able to get medical experts to testify in hearings on their behalf.”
“That is not possible in CICP,” Rohde added. “Under CICP, you fill out a petition and submit your medical records, which go directly to HRSA. They make a sole determination of whether or not you’re eligible for compensation.”
Moreover, according to Rohde, CICP is using an injury table developed in 2003 for the smallpox vaccine. While some adverse events, such as myocarditis and anaphylaxis, are covered, “most of these COVID-19 vaccine injuries are more complex,” and are not recognized by the program.
Numerous countries offer more and larger payouts than the U.S.
South Korean authorities recently announced they will expand the eligibility period and compensation amount for COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths.
An amount of 30 million won ($22,471.91) in “condolence money” will be offered to the families of those who died within 90 days of being vaccinated, up from the 42-day period previously foreseen.
“Even if it is hard to prove causality (between vaccination and death), a person who dies after vaccination will be eligible for death benefits and the amount of condolence money will be increased,” said Park Dae-chul, head of the policy committee of the People Power Party, which controls the South Korean presidency.
According to Pulse News, “Benefits will also be extended to those who died shortly after vaccination as well as unusual deaths,” and an amount of 20 million won ($15,000) “will be provided for cases excluded from compensation due to the autopsy being performed before the system was introduced in July 2022.”
And according to the same report, “the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said that it is dropping its appeal against a lawsuit filed by the bereaved family of a man who died after Covid-19 vaccination.”
KDCA Commissioner Jee Youngmee said the agency will be “taking the necessary steps as a sign that the state takes utmost responsibility for the damage caused to those who joined the vaccination campaign during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Taiwan has also been comparatively more generous than the U.S. According to Taiwan English News, total payouts so far have reached NT$153 million” ($4.79 million), even though “only 45% of claims [have been] processed so far.”
This is “more than the NT$129.6 million [$4.1 million] paid to victims of injury from all vaccines combined in the previous 30 years,” Taiwan English News added. Of 3,271 cases processed thus far, 123 cases (3.7%) “were judged to have a causal link to the vaccine.” A total of 7,741 compensation claims have been filed.
Rohde said “Taiwan seems to be the most equitable” of the vaccine compensation programs. “There really isn’t a decent vaccine compensation program out there in my mind,” he said, because “Big Pharma is fighting back with all these countries and making sure it’s very difficult to proceed.”
In Japan, Mainichi reported that as of Feb. 10, 30 COVID-19 vaccine-related death claims were recognized, out of 1,966 such deaths reported through Dec. 18, 2022.
There were 6,219 vaccine injury claims filed as of Feb. 10, of which 1,622 cases “were recognized as eligible for relief,” including the 30 deaths.
The same report states that “Medical expenses and other payments are distributed to applicants in cases where a causal relationship between vaccination and death cannot be ruled out,” with families “granted a lump sum death payment of 44.2 million yen (about $300,000).” Families also receive 212,000 yen ($1,441) for funeral expenses.
New Zealand authorities also appear to be comparatively more willing to grant compensation to COVID-19 vaccine injury victims, compared to the U.S.
Data as of April 18, 2023, indicate that 3,818 claims were filed between Feb. 18, 2021, and April 15, 2023, of which 1,541 were accepted and 2,169 were declined. Payouts for the 1,541 accepted claims totaled NZD$5,658,510 ($3.35 million). From these, 101 claims received over NZD$10,000 ($5,912).
A total of 1,600 claims were rejected due to a “no injury” determination, and an additional 304 claims were determined to have “no causal link” to vaccination.
Singapore, a country of 5.45 million people, has also been more generous than the U.S. with regard to COVID-19 vaccine injury payouts.
As of January 2023, 413 people were compensated under Singapore’s Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, receiving a total of SGD$1,895,000 ($1.4 million). Three applicants received the maximum payout amount of SDG$225,000 ($165,000), including a 16-year-old who suffered cardiac arrest six days after vaccination.
Canada’s Vaccine Injury Support Program, a newly created program launched in June 2021 which, according to Rohde, was modeled after CICP, has nevertheless approved many more compensation claims than its U.S. counterpart.
As of June 1, the program received 1,859 claims, out of which 1,793 have been deemed eligible, with 103 claims approved and 240 claims deemed ineligible or incomplete.
A total of CAD$6,695,716 ($4.95 million) in payouts have been awarded by the program, an average of CAD$65,007 ($48,100) per awardee.
In Australia, only 164 COVID-19 vaccine injury compensation claims were approved as of May 31, out of 3,160 claims filed. Of these, 911 claims were “deemed not payable” and 2,030 were still in progress, according to Umbrella News. This is out of 139,461 total adverse event reports recorded as of Sept. 3.
September 2022 figures indicated that AUD$3.4 million ($2.1 million) had been paid out at the time for 46 claims, an average of AUD$73,913 ($47,650) per claimant. The next month, Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported that an 80-fold increase in COVID-19 vaccine injury payouts, to AUD$77 million ($49.6 million) was expected by July 2023.
Umbrella News also reported that “Such difficulties have led some frustrated vaccine-injured Australians to pursue legal action, such as the widely publicised COVID vaccine class action, which was filed in the Federal Court in April this year,” which “is seeking compensation for COVID vaccine-injured Australians” for “harm and damage.”
Reportedly, over 500 people have joined the class action lawsuit, in which the Australian government and two public health officials have been named.
The Daily Mail reported Wednesday that recent testimony at the U.K.’s official COVID-19 Inquiry revealed that VDPS has received 6,399 claims, of which 2,352 were notified of an outcome and 127 claims received an award. For an additional 177 claims, causation was recognized but the 60% disability threshold was not reached.
A total payout amount of 15.24 million pounds ($18.9 million) can be extrapolated from these figures. According to the U.K.’s National Health Service Business Services Authority, 539 claims were filed on behalf of someone who died, and 53 of these claims were approved, as of Sept. 1.
Rohde told The Defender claimants in the U.K. “have two options — you can go to their statutory compensation program, or you can take your chances with going to court.” On his Substack, he referenced two such cases pending before U.K. courts.
Thailand’s National Health Security Office (NHSO) was also comparatively generous with its COVID-19 vaccine injury payouts but has since stopped offering compensation.
As of January 2022, 1 billion baht ($28 million) was paid “to nearly 10,000 people who reported adverse effects” from COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Thai government.
However, in September 2022, the NHSO announced government compensation would no longer be offered except to those with a “gold card” — a universal healthcare program covering those who are otherwise uninsured.
And as of June 2023, South Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Injury No Fault Compensation Scheme, with an allocation of R250 million ($13.2 million), received 49 claims.
Of these, R450,000 ($23,700) in compensation was offered for three deaths, R171,000 ($9,000) was paid for a permanent disability claim, R45,000 ($2,370) for a temporary disability claim and R5,600 ($295) for a private doctor consultation claim.
In Germany, The Local reported in June that out of 338,857 “suspected cases of side effects” following COVID-19 vaccinations, including 54,879 severe reactions, 8,000 applications for compensation were filed as of April. Of these, “about five percent have been successful,” although no further details were provided.
In Austria, despite approximately 50,000 reports of side effects following COVID-19 vaccination as of August 2022, only 1,400 applications for compensation under the country’s Vaccine Damage Act were filed — out of which seven were approved, receiving an average compensation amount of 1,600 euros ($1,704).
France has “no specific [compensation] procedure,” for recommended vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, but offers “several remedies,” including court proceedings or a claim with the country’s Conciliation and Compensation Commission.
And in Ireland, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was recently questioned in parliament regarding the country’s lack of a vaccine injury compensation scheme. In response, he said that “during the pandemic, all available Department of Health resources were devoted to the Public Health response” to COVID-19.
As a result, “work in this area” — meaning, the development of a vaccine injury compensation program — “could not be progressed.”
Plans to provide vaccine manufacturers with global liability shield in the works?
According to Rohde, however, a particularly worrying development involves the COVAX Facility, which has delivered vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries and has established its own vaccine injury compensation program.
COVAX, which stands for “COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access,” is directed by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.
Rohde wrote that COVAX, which he described as “a Frankenstein creature from the WHO, Gavi and the Gates Foundation,” so far “refuses to provide any compensation data to media inquiries,” adding that “Legal jurisdiction over this creature is questionable.”
In remarks shared with The Defender, Rohde said “There’s no transparency. There is no data reporting … No one’s been able to get any answers,” adding that the COVAX vaccine injury compensation program is administered by U.S. insurers Chubb and ESIS.
“There’s no legal jurisdiction,” he added. “They don’t report to a country. So how do you go after it? How do you sue them for information? You can’t. We don’t know how many people have been injured and compensated worldwide now for these countries that accepted these vaccines.”
Rohde expressed concern that “this program will become part of a platform for the global distribution of all vaccines,” potentially leading to a global liability shield for vaccine manufacturers.
Independent journalist James Roguski told The Defender that the “Bureau’s text of the WHO convention” of the “pandemic treaty” under negotiation by WHO member states includes, in “Article 10. Liability risk management,” language stating:
“The Parties shall establish, no later than XX, using existing relevant models as a reference, regional or international vaccine injury compensation scheme(s) for injuries resulting from the use and/or administration of vaccines developed for response to pandemics that is/are transparent and complement(s) any liability protections and/or other liability risk management mechanisms.”
“It is simply and inherently wrong for any government to legislate, regulate or contractually agree to protect anyone or any corporation from liability for the harm that their products may cause,” Roguski said. “Offering such protection must not be permitted. The core reason that vaccines cause harm is because no one is held liable.”