New bill would strip COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers of liability protection

A Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a person in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 29, 2022.

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Legislation introduced on March 5 would strip COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers of liability protections, enabling Americans injured by the shots to sue the companies.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), would retroactively remove protections from the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.

No federal law … may make the manufacturer of a COVID-19 vaccine immune from suit or liability, or limit the liability of such a manufacturer, with respect to claims for loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the administration to or the use by an individual of a COVID–19 vaccine,” the bill states.

The PREP Act currently protects manufacturers and people who administer the vaccines from liability, under a 2020 declaration entered by then-Health Secretary Alex Azar during former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020. President Joe Biden’s administration has since extended the declaration.

The only exception to the PREP Act protection is in cases of death or serious injury caused by “willful misconduct.”

The protection even covers people who “reasonably could have believed” they were protected even if, in actuality, they were not, according to an opinion from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Millions of Americans were forced to take a COVID-19 shot out of fear of losing their livelihoods and under false pretenses. Many have faced injury from the vaccine, but few have been afforded little recourse,” Mr. Roy said in a statement.

He said he was introducing the new bill “to empower Americans to remove crony federal liability protections for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and empower injured Americans,” adding, “The American people deserve justice for the infringement on their personal medical freedom and those medically harmed deserve restitution.”

As part of the federal vaccine system, people who have suspected or confirmed injuries from COVID-19 vaccines can apply for compensation from the government under a program called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. But as of January, just 11 people have been compensated, with the highest payout being just $8,961.

The overwhelming majority of claims that have been processed have been rejected, according to the HHS, which both runs and administers the program. Some of the denials involved people whose doctors diagnosed them with vaccine injuries. A lawsuit has challenged the constitutionality of the program, describing it as a “kangaroo court.”

The new legislation makes clear that it does not affect the ability of people to apply for recompense through the compensation program.

Pfizer and Moderna did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the bill and have not appeared to comment publicly on it.

A spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group for pharmaceutical companies, told Fox News that “by upending the existing liability framework manufacturers rely upon to provide predictable vaccine development, our ability to address future public health threats will be at risk.”

HHS has said the PREP Act declaration “has been a key tool for ensuring that Americans have broad access to critical COVID-19 countermeasures including vaccines, tests, and treatments” and “has provided flexibilities and protections for those individuals and entities who have been involved in providing these critical tools that have helped the United States get to a better place with COVID-19.”

Mr. Roy’s bill already has 19 co-sponsors, including Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Clary Higgins (R-La.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Andy Harris (R-Md.).

“Many Americans were wrongly forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine,” Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.), another co-sponsor, said in a statement. “Of course, they should be allowed to sue if they become injured by the shot.”

Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit, is among the supporters of the proposal.

“The damages and fatalities caused by the COVID-19 vaccine demand accountability,” Mary Holland, president of the group, said in a statement. “This legislation represents a critical milestone in rectifying these injustices and paving the way for a more accountable future.”