The government is bracing to fund a “substantial” number of liabilities relating to negative impacts from Covid-19 jabs, having spent more than £34bn on the vaccine rollout so far.
The Department of Health and Social Care told vaccine manufacturers at the start of the programme that it would cover future claims against producers for any adverse effects of their vaccines which “may add to the cost of the programme in the long term”, according to a Public Account Committee report today.
As of the beginning of the month, 1,984 vaccine-related damages claims have been received by the NHS Business Services Authority, which describes itself as an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care, managing over £35bn of NHS spend annually,
After hearing evidence from vaccine injured people, including one 55-year-old who can no longer work following a blood clot in their brain, the report said the weight of the claims underline “the importance of having clear, prompt and adequate compensation, arrangements for people in need.”
The Department told the Committee it had a “substantial number of contingent liabilities” relating to vaccine side-effects and has been “seeking to reduce their value.”
By the end of October 2021, the government had spent £5.6bn on vaccines, less than many other parts of the Covid-19 response, such as the £13.5bn on by NHS Test and Trace between 2020 and 2021 and the £15bn spent on PPE in the same period.
While the government is yet to reveal Covid-19 spending for this year, it had initially set aside £37bn for the contact tracing scheme, the equivalent of 20 per cent of the NHS’s entire annual budget.
“It typically takes ten years to develop a vaccine, approve it for use and roll it out to the public,” the report added. “For Covid-19 vaccines, only eight months elapsed between setting up the vaccine the Vaccine Taskforce to procure potential Covid-19 vaccines and the start of the NHS rollout.