COVID-19 Public Inquiry update: recommendation to include impact of vaccines
As part of Baroness Hallett’s final recommendations to the Prime Minister on the COVID19 Inquiry’s Terms of Reference on 12 May 2022, she observed that the draft Terms of Reference should be amended to better reflect consideration of the impact of vaccines so that “the development, delivery and impact of therapeutics and vaccines”, subject to the Prime Minister’s approval, will be formally considered as part of the COVID19 Inquiry.
The COVID19 Inquiry has been established under the Inquiries Act 2005, to examine the UK’s preparedness and response to the COVID19 pandemic, and to learn lessons for the future. Her recommendations are the result of a four-week public consultation initiated in April. A summary of the Baroness’ recommendations explains:
“Many of the responses shared with the Inquiry focused on the vaccination scheme. In the Inquiry’s consideration of the vaccination scheme, we will consider all aspects of the vaccination rollout, including adverse reactions and side-effects as well as the adequacy of compensation arrangements for such cases.”
Baroness Hallett has announced that the first phase of the Inquiry preparations will include a Listening Project through which families affected by the pandemic can engage with the Inquiry in a more informal setting than a public hearing in order to share their experiences, particularly around bereavement, in a more informal setting. It is anticipated that this project will begin in the autumn 2022.
Hausfeld has been working for more than 12 months with a group of individuals who have been severely injured or bereaved as a consequence of vaccination. The group seeks reform of the existing Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, constituted under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979, which is intended to provide timely and substantive financial support to the very small minority of individuals who have suffered severe injury or in some instances bereavement consequent upon vaccination.
As part of our campaigning work to support the families affected by vaccine injury and bereavement, we wrote to the COVID19 Inquiry to request that the Inquiry should consider not only the successes of the vaccination programme but also those who have been injured through vaccination as well as the financial and social support required for these individuals and families.
Sarah Moore who is supporting the families affected explains:
“Baroness Hallett’s decision to amend the Terms of Reference to encompass the impact of vaccines, good and bad, through the pandemic is hugely important, both to the families with whom we are working, and in the wider context of seeking reform of the existing Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme. To date the Government has been reluctant to engage with the families with whom we are working or to acknowledge the widely recognised problems of the VDPS. If Baroness Hallett’s recommendations are taken up, and the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry are amended, this important issue will be the subject of fulsome, authoritative and expert analysis as part of the COVID19 Inquiry.”