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No, vaccine makers must gain a legal shield

Quoted by Don Boudreaux this is, I’m afraid, wrong:

Vaccine makers should not be shielded from litigation for vaccine adverse events. People who mandate vaccines should also be subject to litigation. In America, the only retribution is litigation. If you mandate a booster in a 26-year-old man and he has myocarditis, he should be able to sue the s*** out of you.

Mandating, well, maybe. That’s possibly an edge case. But vaccine manufacturers? No, that legal shield is a necessity.

For the entire point of a vaccine is that it is administered to everyone. And a simple truth is that if you insisted that all 360 million Americans go out and climb a flight of stairs then at least one – possibly many – would die from that one activity.

Doing anything at all to 360 million people will kill some of them.

But vaccines work by, are intended for, being administered to everyone.

Which leaves us with a harsh truth. Administering the polio virus can lead to people getting polio. OK. Not administering the polio virus leads to people getting polio. OK. We’ve now an entirely pragmatic decision to make. Is the world better off by killing some handful of people by administering the polio vaccine or better off by allowing tens of thousands to be killed off by not administering the polio vaccine?

Sure, you can take either side of that and presumably opinions will differ if it’s you being killed either way – or your child. But that is the societal decision that has to be taken.

Given this known effect of vaccines – any one of them will kill some people simply because anything done to an entire population kills some people – people will not make vaccines if they’re open to being sued for having made vaccines. Simply because even if everyone does absolutely the best that can possibly be done some are still going to die/be injured/have their bodies or brains fried by the vaccine. Human variation is simply such that this is true.

On the other hand we have those whose brains are fried by this action to protect the rest of society. It would be a bit harsh to simply shrug and say well, that’s the tax some have to pay to society.

The solution, – sorry, there are no solutions, only trade offs – is the vaccine compensation fund. Both the US and the UK have exactly this. We know that vaccines will kill some and injure more. But they’re worth that*. So, society compensates – or at least takes care of – those who end up, by that statistical shitty luck, taking one for the team.

Sure, we can complain about the universe where all of this is true. But it is also true that this is the universe we inhabit, the universe we’ve got to do our best to come to terms with.

Vaccine makers need legal liability – exactly because we know, without a shadow of any doubt, that vaccines are going to kill some of us.

*Whether a specific vaccine is worth that is another question. But the general and overarching case is still that the base idea is.

47 thoughts on “No, vaccine makers must gain a legal shield”

  1. You do have a point Tim.

    I’m remembering that the first ‘vaccine’ in the UK was variolation. That is, infecting someone with smallpox to get it over with. It was certainly a superior approach to doing nothing until a massive pandemic swept through the country.

    Though I understand that the Yanks give you the Salk vaccine first, to provide protection against the risk of polio from the Sabin vaccine.

  2. Sort of, Tim.

    What is emerging is a tale of monumental corruption and government stupidity.

    The Covid vaxxes were rushed through without proper beta testing, the pharma companies oversold them and the governments illegally mandated them based on their false belief thatthey stopped transmission.

    This is not just a case of one in ten thousand adverse effects, but one in eight hundred – which is very bad indeed

  3. That may have been the case back in the day, but today it is big business, not altruism.

    What happens when the ‘proper’ testing regime has been subverted, trial data misrepresented, side effects covered up, deals between the drug companies and government to withold trial data for 75 years to prevent proper scrutiny? Sorry, if people die, those responsible should pay.

    “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”
    Lancet Editor Richard Horton

    If you can, have a look at:

  4. What Ottokring said. Tim’s right, but the Covid vaccine was a massive interference with the normal process of producing a vaccine and heads should roll for it.

  5. To an extent,yes. This is true.

    However, when the vaccine makers haven’t been truthful or have foisted untested products on people with wildly overblown claims of efficacy, they should be subject to liability claims.

    Also, you don’t need to give a vaccine to everyone. Once it reaches a certain level, those who don’t have the vaccine are protected by everyone else because there isn’t a transmission vector for the illness. This is called ‘herd immunity’.
    Forcing people to take a medication they don’t want is diabolical. Pure evil.
    COVID showed the true colours of our governments, and it isn’t pretty.

  6. Chernyy D is quite correct on both counts. Vaccination need not be universal for there to be protection for a population. Indemnity against prosecution depends on truthfulness of the pharma companies in reporting their research trials and in the follow-up reporting during roll-out. If there is dodginess, then the indemnity lapses.

  7. Who mandated the vaccination? The governments or “Big Pharma”?
    So the governments are those who should pay the compensation.
    Hence the vaccintion compensation fund.
    Now, IFF (that’s if and only if) Big Pharma has lied to the government then government can sue Big Pharma for damages. That is obviously a better system than multiple dead people trying to sue because (i) it’s only one trial not ten thousand and (ii) the government has the resources to pursue the case which most individuals, whetheralive or dead, do not.
    It’s enjoyable for conspiracy theorists to shout about Big Pharma lying and cheating to make profits (ignoring AstraZeneca’s obligation to sell the Oxford-designed vaccine at cost), but it doesn’t change reality.

  8. The legal shield must crumble in the face of any fraudulent claims made for a vaccine by the manufacturer.

  9. “The solution is the vaccine compensation fund. Both the US and the UK have exactly this. ”

    Except both government behave towards claimants on it like they are some sort of criminals. And put about 3 men and a dog to administer the system. There are hundreds of slam dunk cases of vaccine injury in the UK that are still waiting today, over a year later for a penny in compensation. And exactly how you can compensate someone for ruining their life I don’t know, these people are broken husks, their lives are destroyed.

  10. We do want producers to be liable for the quality of their product, especially when it is impossible for the ordinary person to evaluate the quality himself.
    In this case the pharmaceutical companies sold vaccines to the public, collectively rather than individually. The companies have been paid for whatever good they did, and should be liable for any harm. The more the good exceeds the harm the more money they keep, the more they profit and deservedly so. If the harm exceeds the good they potentially go bust- and good riddance.

  11. Setting aside the antics around the Covid vaccine, I’d mostly agree, but shouldn’t the manufacturers have some skin in the game when it comes to adverse reactions? Otherwise don’t you end up with another form of moral hazard because they’re not going to be on the hook for bad behaviour/outcomes?

  12. And of course it depends what sort of ‘vaccine’ you’re selling. A sterilising one, then maybe the ‘give it to everyone and compensate the losers’ approach might be reasonable. A non-sterilising one? No way. Anyone producing that shit should be on the hook for every issue it causes.

  13. The mandates came from Big Gov, not Big Pharma, so any liability from mandates is on Big Gov.

    We believed (at least many did) that we were in an emergency situation, so extraordinary measures like liability protection might have been sensible.

    We have known for quite a long time that the “vaccines” do not prevent transmission, so from that point on the mandates were indefensible.

    Even if the “vaccines” prevented transmission the mandates were a very, very shaky idea – you got your shot, you say you’re protected, why do you insist that I get it too?

  14. Who mandated the vaccination? The governments or “Big Pharma”?
    So the governments are those who should pay the compensation.
    Hence the vaccintion compensation fund.

    Both should be liable.
    The government shouldn’t be mandating medication anyway and if they do, they should be damn certain that it is as safe and effective as possible. That means going over every aspect with a fine tooth comb and if anything is wrong, prison time and swinging fines.

    Similarly Just because a product has been mandated, doesn’t mean the manufacturer no longer has an obligation to produce a safe and effective product.
    Seat belts are a mandatory feature in cars. They still have to work.

    Up to now, the vaccine compo fund has been an acceptable method. The vaccines were properly tried and tested, with minimal side effect risk, compared with the risk of the diseases they prevent.

    COVID “vaccines” are an experimental technology and should have gone through far more extensive trials. As it is we’re currently running the biggest trials ever, with billions of people participating in testing. Let’s hope that there aren’t any unexpected side effects further down the line…
    (See Pfizer cow vaccine that ended up killing loads of calves of vaccinated cows a lot later)

  15. Who tests the product and say it is safe and effective?

    Who gets paid for the product?

    So, who is liable again?

    When the compo fund pays the victim peanuts but the authorities fine the company a few billion, where does the fine money go?

  16. I’m inclined to agree with the above. The vaccine manufacturers went along with governments’ desires to rush vaccines onto the market for what was mostly political reasons. Now we’re seeing the results.
    So not a bad idea the manufacturers get sued if we can’t sue the governments. A deterrent for them not getting involved with governments’ political desires next time.

    And yes it was political. Governments having telling their electorates that when shit happens, governments are the only solution. And this was more of the same. Governments needed a solution & vaccines were the solution, whatever the ill effects. People need to understand that when shit happens governments aren’t always the solution. More often the shit happening.

  17. Just a little bit of financial risk / moral hazard / product liability might have persuaded the pharma companies to conduct their trials properly. Then we would have been spared the bloody useless jabs. And we would not have a huge cohort of anti vaxxers who will resist getting their kids inoculated with perfectly safe vaccines.
    Diptheria has broken out in migrant camps near Dover, btw.

  18. MiM states the position in the US as I understand it. If you can prove fraud by, say, Pfizer, then their legal protection evaporates. On reflection, it would have been mad to offer a legal shield without that exception, wouldn’t it?

  19. I think Murphy should practise what he’s been preaching about lax Covid requirements and so be getting compulsory monthly booster jabs and also be placed under Chinese style house quarantine given the number of times he’s had COVID, his seemingly continuing long COVID symptoms and the consequent danger he poses to the rest of Ely.

  20. And we would not have a huge cohort of anti vaxxers who will resist getting their kids inoculated with perfectly safe vaccines.

    “Acceptably safe” rather than “perfectly safe” would express it better: the reason that vaccine injury programmes exist at all is because traditional vaccines can produce rare adverse events.

    “Anti-vaxxer” is a term that was bandied about too loosely and too freely to stigmatise those who rejected the genetic treatments for Covid-19 and to lump them in with a much smaller minority who rejected traditional vaccines.

    If the number of people who reject ALL vaccines has now grown much larger, then this follows directly from the endless official drumbeat of “safe and effective” which is palpably untrue.

  21. How about the perception that the push to have everyone inoculated was an attempt to prevent there being an unvaccinated control group, ’cause it certainly seemed that way to me.
    Also it’s worth repeating, at the early stages it was constantly reiterated that the vaccine would prevent onward transmission, yet we have only just found out that the Pharma companies didn’t even test for that.

  22. “it was constantly reiterated that the vaccine would prevent onward transmission, yet we have only just found out that the Pharma companies didn’t even test for that.”

    No, we’ve known ever since the trial data was released that they didn’t test for transmission, its obvious from the data they were collecting. What happened recently is that some daft Welsh bint working for Pfizer let the cat out of the bag at a European Parliament committee hearing, and said on the record that they had never tested their vaccine for ability to stop transmission.

  23. I wonder, how many Vax deaths would it take for you to change your mind?

    I’d talk about the elephant in the room, but it died suddenly for no apparent reason.

  24. @Jim

    “Let the cat out the bag” or “got herself whistleblower protection because she could see the shit-juggernaut heading down the road with her and a load of her colleagues in its headlights”?

  25. Absolutely not!

    Vaccines are not administered to everyone, except in dictatorships. Vaccines are for personal protection, – a matter of choice – not societal protection – that’s propaganda.

    If A is vaccinated but B is not, A being vaccinated does not protect B who can still be infected and contract disease. Vaccines DO NOT stop infection – they do not erect a force field around an individual – they prime the immune system to respond quickly and reduce propagation of the pathogen, and then kill of the invaders. Whilst this is happening the individual is still infectious but less so having a smaller viral load for less time.

    Vaccines DO NOT stop spread, they can reduce the RATE of spread, but so does natural immunity.

    Vaccinating entire populations, or very large number is contraindicated when a virus is spreading and when it is fast mutating to avoid group immune imprinting – which we now have with CoV2 why Omicron and other variants are spreading faster and wider along the vaccinated.

    Water us drunk by everyone – according to your logic, water companies should have limited liability in case the poison everybody. Ditto food suppliers and many others.

  26. What everyone said.

    I saw this “*Whether a specific vaccine is worth that is another question.” and thought immediately: “No – that’s THE ENTIRE question at issue here”

  27. I remember a lot of people questioning the claims that vaccines stopped transmission were shouted down.
    Our local vaccine mandate for healthcare is still in place and it states in the policy document the justification for it is to stop spread of Covid, one recent court case the judge rejected the claim it should be overturned as doesn’t stop transmission as it wasn’t his place to question the chief medical officer, yet another failing in the system.

  28. “I wonder, how many Vax deaths would it take for you to change your mind?”

    Not that I need my mind changing, but I suspect it would have to be quite a lot to shift a lot of people’s minds. People have about 150 friends (Dunbar’s Number). A good proportion of those who die from the vax are probably already old and infirm, and people will generally discount anyone they know over 65 who dies ‘suddenly’ as ‘Well they were getting on, old people do die’. Vax deaths would have to be significantly raised in the under 65s such that the average person was experiencing at least 2-3 under 65 deaths per year before they started wondering what was going on. Given people’s social circles overlap perhaps 1% of the under 65s would have to die unexpectedly before people started waking up. If its just the elderly I don’t think they ever will.

  29. @Jim

    It isn’t just deaths though.

    I was resistant to the “vaccines” from the start. (Un?)Fortunately from my point of view, a lot of people were happy to be guinea pigs for the pharma companies.
    I’ve seen a significant uptick in people with medical conditions: eye problems (2 detached retinas, 1 eye infection), 2x myocarditis and 1x person developed severe kidney problems. On top of that, workplace days off for sickness have increased markedly this year.
    And these are among young (under 40), previously healthy people – I don’t really know many oldies.

    Also there’s a sudden increase in footballers and other sportists keeling over with heart problems.

    People have noticed and a significant number of previously enthusiastic “vaccine” takers have expressed regret at taking it and refusal to take any or more boosters

  30. John B’s post is the important one, because it nails where Mr Worstall’s premise is misguided.

    “The entire point of a vaccine is that it is administered to everyone” is entirely not the case. It makes absolutely no difference to the recipient of a vaccine whether anyone else has it.

    And on that basis I’d say that the rest of Mr Worstall’s point fails.

  31. Pfizer has alerted the stock market that demand for their latest multivariant mRNA vaccine is strong so they expect to make $38 billion, not $34 billion out of it this year.
    Eight out of ten dead mice can’t be wrong.
    So Jim is right.

  32. There is a problem with making manufacturers liable. Suppose there is a disease that kills one in 10,000 and a vaccine which prevents it but kills 1 in 100,000. If the manufacturer charges $10 per dose and we vaccinate 10 million people, the manufacturer earns $100 million and 100 people die. If the manufacturer is then forced to pay $1 million compensation per death (a bit low nowadays), that wipes out all their earnings – let alone the profit. Yet they have saved 900 lives. That means a sensible manufacturer would simply refuse to supply the vaccine and the 900 people would die. The problem is that there is a huge asymmetry between those saved and those killed. Those whose lives are saved pay nothing more than the standard price of the vaccine – indeed many will never realise that they were saved by it.

    The way to solve this is with a state scheme which, effectively, gets everyone to pay a little to compensate the few who are harmed.

    Note that this applies to vaccines such as Covid ones which reduce the severity of the illness in those vaccinated but do not prevent it, so they cannot stop the spread. For diseases such as measles, there are vaccines which stop you getting it, so once a large enough fraction of the population is vaccinated the disease will die out as it fails to find enough people it can infect (the so called “herd immunity”). We probably won’t see that kind of vaccine for Covid because, like influenza and viruses that cause colds, it mutates too much.

    And that’s not taking into account other problems of liability whereby people who were not injured by the vaccine but by chance had something bad happen just after vaccination (which will be many people when there is mass vaccination) will make claims. All of these false claims will cost something to defend and it’s quite likely that some will succeed. This is especially bad in the USA where the legal system is more favourable to false claims and nearly resulted in all vaccine manufacturers refusing to supply DPT vaccines in the 80’s. Only the intruduction of a liability shield and national compensation prevented this. Even so, the fall in vaccination rate resulted in an increase in pertussis cases and, consequentally, deaths.

  33. Charles: You’ve misread your calculator. The vaccine in your example hasn’t saved 900 lives. It’s saved 90 lives (while killing 100).

  34. Pardon me if I missed in the comments what I’m about to say, but at least in principle a simple standard of negligence should be able to protect makers of vaccines from excessive risk of litigation. IF the liability standard were unalterably one of strict liability, then Tim’s objection would have much merit. But under a negligence standard, a defendant is liable only if that defendant is found to have acted negligently or recklessly (that is, as a reasonable person would not act). In principle, a negligence standard should be able to protect each vaccine maker from liability if the statistically inevitable deaths are not shown by a preponderance of the evidence to have been caused by the maker’s negligence or recklessness. Whether or not in practice the negligence standard would work this way is a different (and important) question, but at least it seems to me that, once we discard strict liability as the necessary standard, then legislatively granted immunity from liability is not as obviously necessary, to my mind, as Tim believes it to be.

  35. @ Anyone who says vaccination does not stop infection.
    Vaccinationcauses the body’s immune system to generate antibodies to defeat the infection. So the individual is much less ill and for a significantly shorter period of time.
    So he/she will infect far fewer people and less badly.
    Vaccination reduces the risk for both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
    Paul, Somerset – think this through
    Esteban, BNiC massive reduction is not the same as total prevention but it does nearly the same job
    FYI the countries with by far the highest death rates re Peru which relies on Chinese vaccines (while China has ferocious lock-down policies in lieu of relying on its own vaccines) and Bulgaria which has the lowest vaccination rate in the EU
    @ John B The vaccination of A reduces the risk to B just as much as A’s recovery from an attck of Covid because the samemechanism is in place, just without the suffering of A due to an attack of covid

  36. 1. If we take your fictional numbers as fact the case is still poor

    2. Obviously you wouldn’t use symmetrical arguments against all pharma liability, malpractice suits, or any kind of liability at all really. If we adopt the tone of utilitarian beasts like yourself we fudge the numbers so the hypothetical good outweighs the actual bad and no one has to be responsible for anything.

    3. In this game of yours only the hypothetically saved pay for the killed, and no one else buys the thing at all? What a supposition!

    4. COVID 19 was thought to be serious in the basis of the idea that it had rapid asymptomatic spread paired with very high leathality. Neither turned out to be true and we all knew it by April of 2020. Yes 2020, before many major measures were taken. Everything after that has been politicos taking advantage of jackinapes that can’t think critically for half a second.

    It seems most people forgot about #4 the very second it was shown to be not a real problem.

    5. The protection given by the pertussis vaccine is short lived. It’s vaxed kids with poor hygiene spreading it back and forth and dying. I saw it in my own city for about two years. By school age no one in my country has effective immunity per the label on the Vax itself. Doesn’t stop vaxed idiots from thinking and acting as if they were immune.

    The overselling of vaccine effectiveness is a public health crisis. Vaccines are a mixed bag that ranges from functional to an absolute crapshoot, and that goes for older ones as well. But taking a realistic view of them is a modern sacrilege.

    I guess marketing is the modern religion?

  37. I guess marketing is the modern religion?

    Science is the modern religion.

    It has:
    induction rituals (gotta get that MSc/pHd/etc)
    A priest class (scientists) who can’t be questioned by laymen.
    Incantations (Trust the science)
    Religious texts (scientific papers – how dare you question the paper’s methodology or the source of funding for it?)
    Publicly questioning “the science” gets you shunned from society (you aren’t getting the “vaccine”? Why? Heretic! Unclean!)

  38. @ Don Boudreaux
    You appear to assume that all trial lawyers are ethical. Recent experience suggests the contrary: I recall that Lloyds Bank (of which I am a shareholder as a result of having saved with Halifax in my youth) reported that it spent far more on dealing with spurious PPI claims (mostly from Claim Management Companies in relation to people who had never had a PPI policy) than on settling genuine ones. If the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the Pharma companies defence costs, then it is cheaper to settle a fake claim than to defend it.

  39. If no one is manufacturing because the cost risk is greater than the benefit we should let market rules rule.

    1. Let the thing in demand not be made. Now there is lots of money on the table for anyone who makes the product safer and thus profitable.

    2. Review the litigation process and punishments. Perhaps fine tune them or weed out fraud cases better.

    3. Decide the thing isn’t actually worth the associated risks and ignore it entirely.

    With anything else, these ideas rule don’t they?

    But no in this case they must be given too important to fail status and total immunity. It’s begging for systemic abuse, and cov vaxs are the abuse potential come home to roost.

  40. In this case the question is moot since they called something a ‘vaccine’ when it was not a vaccine; rather, an untested, novel RNA therapy. And a government-mandated one at that; even for children, who were effectively at zero COVID risk (they were forcibly injected on the pretext not of protecting themselves but of protecting obese adults.)

    The entire political establishment belongs in Spandau prison, and we haven’t even got to the topic of lockdowns.

  41. @Tim W

    You are wrong on this. It is Not a vaccine and manufacturers knew this and still named them as vaccines. FDA / CDC then, at their behest, redefined what a vaccine is

    Go back and read AZ, Pfizer, MHRA safety data in Dec 2020 and it’s very obvious it was not a vaccine, but all sold it as if it was

    I read the data and concluded: Dangerous Snake Oil Poison – Say NO

    The “We didn’t know” defense is dead. We did and it was there for all to see

  42. Even my aged mother, whose only source of information on covid and vaccines (apart from me) is the BBC and the Daily Telegraph, is beginning to cotton on. After a bad reaction to her 3rd shot (first booster last Sept – weird red welts appeared all over her torso and legs) she’s refused all additional ones, and now has started pointing out to me the people she knows who have ‘died suddenly’. Another one just recently, the second case of death in her circle from sudden onset sepsis this year. And one of her oldest friends is having heart problems, having never had any before, which coincided with the autumn booster shot campaign for oldies…………

    I just look at her when she tells me the latest tale of woe, and she says ‘I know what you’re going to say……I know’.

  43. @Charlie

    2. We don’t fudge any numbers. They relevant numbers are derived from the clinical studies and are used by regulators to decide if the treatment is good enough.

    3. No. All 10 million but the vaccine, which is where the $100 million income comes from. If only those saved bought it, the income would be $10,000 – though if we could tell who would be saved we’d know a huge amount more about biology than we do now.

    4. It certainly has a high rate of spreading. I don’t know if you count as asymptomatic transmission the cases where someone passes it on before they get symptoms, but that also happens. The lethality is high enough to make people drastically change their behaviour, so while you may thing that killing about 1% of those infected is not very high, the actions of very many people show they disagree.

    5. Nonsense. DPT is considered to last at least ten years.

    @Charlie – “If no one is manufacturing because the cost risk is greater than the benefit …”

    That’s not happening. What would happen is the cost to someone outweight the benefit to them. We have fixed this by assessing if the cost to everyone outweights the benefit to everyone.

    @wat dabney – “called something a ‘vaccine’ when it was not a vaccine”

    I suggest you read the wikipedia page on vaccines.

    In more general terms, we can do some calculations on those 360 million Americans. ASsuming half of them live to be 85, then 85 years from now half must be dead – 180 million. That’s 2,117,647 per year or 5798 per day. So if you do somethnig completely harmless to all of them, you should expect nearly 6000 do die the following day, or 40,000 to die in a week. This is why we need careful controlled studies to assess the true risks – not anecdotes or merely counting adverse effects.

  44. Not sure why Tim is insistent that the market cannot work in the case of vaccines. The fact there is guaranteed downside for some surely just means the pricing of the vaccine should allow for the manufacturer to pay compensation to those affected?

    More specifically, Tim rightly identifies the inevitable downside of applying any drug to large numbers of people. I am sceptical that it is possible to derive a net benefit from the application of any medicine to the general populace if that medicine does not prevent virus transmission.

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