Lincoln Memorial University Law Review Archive


Yu-Wei Chen

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Vaccine liability determines vaccine availability. The allocation of vaccine liability is a determinant in reaching a procurement contract. Particularly during a pandemic, vaccine accelerated production poses new challenges to vaccine safety, quality, and efficacy. Solving the issue of vaccine liability is as equally important as vaccine equity in ensuring access to vaccines. For COVID-19 vaccine procurements, there are two discernible models of liability allocation around the globe: the United States risk-taking model and the European Union risk-negotiating model. The United States' risk-taking model shows that vaccine liability is borne by the government; in contrast, the European Union's risk-negotiating model shows that vaccine liability is negotiable between the government and the manufacturer. The risk-taking model proactively eliminates business risks in the vaccine market and encourages the few manufacturers to innovate and profit from their inventions boldly. The risk-negotiating model seeks to minimize government interventions in the vaccine market and avoid measures that might favor the selected manufacturers. It is equally important to note that middle-to-low-income countries usually cannot tackle vaccine liability with a publicly available scheme. In response, an international collaboration to consider a global solution for liability problems is expected. Such an international mechanism is essential to harmonize institutional divergences for vaccine liability, establish an international vaccine compensation scheme, and promote procurement transparency.

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