Payout system for Covid vaccine victims needs overhaul, inquiry told

Payout system for Covid vaccine victims needs overhaul, inquiry told

Payout system for Brits who suffered vaccine damage during pandemic needs overhaul, Covid inquiry told

  • The Covid Inquiry held its first preliminary hearing on Covid vaccines today
  • Some 127 claims to the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme have been approved 
  • But claimants of the vaccine injury scheme must be deemed 60% disabled
  • READ MORE: Vaccine injury bill tops £12MILLION after 105 claims  approved

A ‘radical’ reform of the Covid vaccine compensation scheme is ‘urgently’ required, the Covid Inquiry was told today. 

While the jabs deployed during the pandemic are safe for the vast majority and have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, dozens of Brits have been killed or left disabled after getting an injection.

Under current rules, victims of certain vaccines, including ones used to beat Covid, are only entitled to a one-off ‘all-or-nothing’ sum of £120,000 from the Government.

Lawyers representing those injured or bereaved by the jabs told the long-awaited probe that the scheme was ‘no longer fit for purpose’. 

While the programme has received 6,399 claims since its launch in 2020, over 500 people have been left waiting more than 12 months for an outcome, while 166 have been stuck in limbo for more than 18 months, the Inquiry was also told today. 

At least 127 claims for the state-funded financial support have now been approved, taking the total bill so far to over £15million.

Under the provisional outline for module four — vaccines and therapeutics — the Inquiry will assess whether any reforms to the vaccine damage payment scheme are necessary. Speaking at its preliminary hearing in north-west London , Anna Morris KC (pictured) for three groups — the Vaccine Injured and Bereaved UK, Scottish Vaccine Injury Group and UK CV Family — said: ‘In short they are and what is required is both radical and urgent. It is no longer fit for purpose’

Lawyers representing those injured or bereaved by the jabs also told the long-awaited probe the scheme was ‘no longer fit for purpose’. While the scheme has received 6,399 claims since its launch in 2020, over 500 people have been left waiting more than 12 months for an outcome, with 166 stuck in limbo for more than 18 months, the Inquiry was also told today. At least 127 claims for the state-funded, financial support have now been approved, taking the total bill so far to over £15million

Module four of the inquiry — which is focusing on vaccines and therapeutics — will assess whether any reforms to the vaccine damage payment scheme are necessary. 

Speaking at its preliminary hearing today in north-west London, Anna Morris KC, who represents three groups — the Vaccine Injured and Bereaved (VIB) UK, Scottish Vaccine Injury Group and UK CV Family — said: ‘What is required is both radical and urgent. It [the vaccine compensation scheme] is no longer fit for purpose.’

She told the probe: ‘As of July of this year, the scheme has received a total of 6,399 claims of which 2,352 have been notified of an outcome.

‘Over 500 of those claims have been waiting for more than 12 months with 166 of them waiting for over 18 months waiting to receive an outcome. 96 per cent of those claims have been refused.

‘Many have been turned down on causation despite having evidence from multiple consultants that their injuries started following vaccination.’

The full list of vaccines that Government will pay financial support for, if you’re left 60 per cent disabled 

  • COVID-19
  • diphtheria
  • haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • human papillomavirus
  • influenza, except for influenza caused by a pandemic influenza virus
  • measles
  • meningitis B
  • meningitis C
  • meningitis W
  • mumps
  • pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu) – up to 31 August 2010
  • pertussis (whooping cough)
  • pneumococcal infection
  • poliomyelitis
  • rotavirus
  • rubella
  • smallpox – up to 1 August 1971
  • tetanus
  • tuberculosis

You may have had a combined vaccination against a number of the diseases listed. For example, you might have been vaccinated against DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) or MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).

You may also be able to get a payment if you’re severely disabled because either:

  • your mother was vaccinated against one of the diseases in the list while she was pregnant
  • you’ve been in close physical contact with someone who’s had an oral vaccine against poliomyelitis


She added: ‘Only 127 claimants have received an award while 177 claims were unsuccessful solely because they did not meet the 60 per cent disabled criteria, even though causation was accepted.

‘This highlights the inherent shortcomings of the current all-or-nothing scheme.’

Under current rules, strict eligibility criteria means those affected must either have been killed or be left 60 per cent disabled due to a vaccine.

This means a person theoretically judged to be only 59 per cent disabled will not get a penny.

The extent of a person’s disability is based on an assessment by a doctor and can include both physical disablement, such as the loss of a limb, or mental disablement, such as a decline cognitive function. 

It also means there is no escalation of the sum received.

So, for example, someone who is completely paralysed by a vaccine would receive the same £120,000 as someone who lost a leg. 

Going blind or deaf counts as being 100 per cent disabled. 

Addressing the Inquiry, Ms Morris added: ‘The VIB have campaigned to make changes to scheme, specifically the time it takes to access an awards claim, to remove the limited eligibility criteria for causation and amend the one-size-fits all payment which should have no upper limit.’

But she also stressed: ‘To be clear, those we represent voluntarily participated in the Covid vaccination programme when called upon.

‘A significant number of them encountered adverse reactions following the first vaccine dose. 

‘Nonetheless they were advised by their doctors to proceed with a second dose.

‘These are not people who are dealing with a sore arm or flu like symptoms. 

‘These are people who have had a stroke, a heart attack or lost a limb. 

‘People who’s body’s are full of clots or people who have had debilitating migraines almost every single day for up to three years.’

The UK’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, launched in 1979, is meant to reassure people that — in the extremely unlikely event something goes wrong following a jab — the state will provide them financial support.

It covers an array of vaccines recommended by the Government, including measles, mumps and rubella.

The successful claims cover those affected by vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT), the rare complication of AstraZenaca’s jab that spooked health chiefs across the world.

Others developed Guillain-Barre syndrome or suffered other blood clots.

Ms Morris said that the three groups — VIB UK, Scottish Vaccine Injury Group and UK CV — represent 1,350 Covid adversely affected individuals. 

However she noted: ‘We have no way of knowing exactly the total numbers that have been adversely impacted but it should be assumed there are others who have not found a support group yet.’

Common side effects, which health bosses say can affect more than 10 per cent of recipients, include fatigue, ‘flu-like’ symptoms, and pain in the arms or legs. Stomach pain, a rash and excessive sweating were uncommon, strikes roughly one in 100 people who get vaccinated

Rare (approximately one in 1,000) issues include facial drooping on one side. Very rare (one in 10,000) side effects can see people paralysed

Researchers tasked with investigating the adverse reaction believe it occurs due to the modified cold virus lurking in the jab acting like a magnet to a type of protein in the blood called platelet factor 4. Platelet factor 4 is normally used by the body to promote coagulation in the blood, in case of injury. Then, in rare instances, the body’s immune system confuses platelet factor 4 with a foreign invader and releases antibodies to attack it in case of ‘mistaken identity’. These antibodies then clump together with platelet factor 4, forming the blood clots that have become so heavily linked with the jab, according to their theory

Addressing the Inquiry later, she added: ‘The treatment of the vaccine injured in this country has historically been a source of shame. 

‘Neglect and discrimination has been brought to the light through the Covid vaccination rollout and is now resulting is serious mistrust of British institutions, the Government and of healthcare systems.

‘Trust is vital in the event of future health crises. In order to rebuild trust from the general public the UK must urgently develop an effective and compassionate means of medically, practically, financially and emotionally supporting the vaccine injured.’

In June, MailOnline revealed Tory MPs were calling for the £120,000 sum to be raised in ‘real terms’, in line with inflation.

Read more: Covid vaccine injury bill tops £12MILLION after two dozen backlogged damage claims are approved in a month

Politicians were also demanding the axing of strict criteria that means people have to be at least ’60 per cent disabled’ to get the cash.

However, ministers at the time ruled out adopting either change in a behind-closed-doors meeting with campaigners.

Real-world evidence has repeatedly proven vaccines — championed by MailOnline throughout the pandemic — are safe and save lives. 

But in extremely rare cases they do carry risks. 

Since the vaccine programme began in December 2020, more than 151million jabs have been dished out by the NHS.

Recent months have already seen huge criticism of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic, including the country’s lack of a thorough plan for dealing with such an event. 

The first module of the Covid Inquiry concluded in July after six weeks of witness evidence, but the probe as a whole is not expected to end until 2026.

It is not uncommon for large-scale public probes to take years to complete.

The Chilcot Inquiry, which analysed the UK’s role in the Iraq war, took more than seven years to conclude, from when it was first announced in 2009.

Meanwhile the Bloody Sunday Inquiry – first established by Tony Blair’s government in 1998 – did not deliver its final report until June 2010. 

A separate Scottish Covid Inquiry is looking at the pandemic response in devolved areas in Scotland.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, has said he and the government are fully committed to the inquiry, though they maintain that there is no need for Wales to hold its own inquiry.

Will Boris Johnson be quizzed? Who else will be involved? And how long will it take? EVERYTHING you need to know about the Covid inquiry

Why was the inquiry set up?

There has been much criticism of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic, including the fact the country seemed to lack a thorough plan for dealing with such a major event.

Other criticisms levelled at the Government include allowing elderly people to be discharged from hospitals into care homes without being tested, locking down too late in March 2020 and the failures of the multi-billion NHS test and trace.

Families of those who lost their loved ones to Covid campaigned for an independent inquiry into what happened.

Then Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was right that lessons are learned, announcing in May 2021 that an inquiry would be held.

Will Boris Johnson be quizzed? If so, when?

It’s not clear exactly when, or if, the former Prime Minister will be quizzed. No full list of witnesses for each module has been published yet.

But given he was in charge of the Government for almost the entirety of the pandemic, his insights will prove central to understanding several aspects of the nation’s response.

If called forward as a witness, he would be hauled in front of the committee to give evidence.

What topics will the inquiry cover?

There are currently six broad topics, called modules, that will be considered by the inquiry.

Module 1 has already examined the resilience and preparedness of the UK for a coronavirus pandemic.

Module 2 will, in the autumn, examine decisions taken by Mr Johnson and his then team of ministers, as advised by the civil service, senior political, scientific and medical advisers, and relevant committees.

The decisions taken by those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also be examined.

Module 3 will investigate the impact of Covid on healthcare systems, including on patients, hospitals and other healthcare workers and staff.

This will include the controversial use of Do Not Attempt Resuscitation notices during the pandemic.

Module 4 meanwhile will assess Covid vaccines and therapeutics. 

It will consider and make recommendations on a range of issues relating to the development of Covid vaccines and the implementation of the vaccine rollout programme in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Modules 5 and 6 will open later this year, investigating government procurement and the care sector. 

Who is in charge of the inquiry?

Baroness Heather Hallett is in the charge of the wide-reaching inquiry. And she’s no stranger to taking charge of high profile investigations.

The 72-year-old ex-Court of Appeal judge was entrusted by Mr Johnson with chairing the long-awaited public probe into the coronavirus crisis.

Her handling of the inquiry will be subject to ferocious scrutiny.

Until Baroness Hallett was asked to stand aside, she was acting as the coroner in the inquest of Dawn Sturgess, the 44-year-old British woman who died in July 2018 after coming into contact with the nerve agent Novichok.

She previously acted as the coroner for the inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of the July 7, 2005 London bombings.

She also chaired the Iraq Fatalities Investigations, as well as the 2014 Hallett Review of the administrative scheme to deal with ‘on the runs’ in Northern Ireland.

Baroness Hallett, a married mother-of-two, was nominated for a life peerage in 2019 as part of Theresa May’s resignation honours.

How long will it take?

When he launched the terms of the inquiry in May 2021, Mr Johnson said he hoped it could be completed in a ‘reasonable timescale’.

But, realistically, it could take years.

It has no formal deadline but is due to hold hearings across the UK until at least 2025. 

Interim reports are scheduled to be published before public hearings conclude by summer 2026.

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war began in 2009 but the final, damning document wasn’t released until 2016.

Meanwhile, the Bloody Sunday inquiry took about a decade.

Should a similar timescale be repeated for the Covid inquiry, it would take the sting out of any criticism of any Tory Government failings.

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