Producers of Covid-19 vaccines and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have agreed to pass on the risk of vaccine failure to governments.
As such, individuals are not forced to take the vaccine. Everyone will take the vaccine out of free will and the manufacturers will not be liable for any negative effects.
Malawi Government has signed on to this arrangement under the Covax facility.
Authorities won’t force anyone to get vaccinated.
Some quarters have questioned the government’s rationale for indemnifying manufacturers of vaccines that may be harmful to Malawians.
They are also questioning the manufacturers’ motive for the zero-liability clause.
These concerns are genuine, but we also need to look at why the manufacturers are pushing to be exempted from paying damages for any adverse effects.
Development of a vaccine with minimal probable risks usually takes over 10 years. With Covid-19, we do not have time to wait for decades.
Manufa-cturers have, therefore, fast tracked the development of vaccines at the request of governments.
The rush means certain steps in the vaccine development cycle have not been fully derisked.
The big question is: Who bears this risk? The manufacturers shortened the vaccine development process as requested, so it is only fair that governments bear the risk of failure.
But governments’ hands are tied on this one. They have a duty to protect citizens by ensuring that those who would be helped by the vaccine access the product.
This is why Malawi has signed up to this arrangement.
If it were me, I would ask government to tell the public all the risks associated with the vaccine and stress that these risks are universal.
Every Malawian will have to decide whether to get vaccinated or not. Phukusi la moyo sakusungira ndi mzako.
Malawians should understand that the government does not have all the answers to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus disease is new and we are learning by living through the pandemic together.
We all have a role to play. As citizens, we can assist the government by adhering to all precautions.
There will never be a day when our government will send a representative to your doorstep to force you to put on a mask, wash your hands or social distance.
Before we take up arms against our own government for signing the vaccine indemnity deal, let us ask ourselves how we have contributed to stop the spread of the corona virus.
We would not be debating the correctness of the vaccine if the numbers of confirmed cases were low.
Thus, we have to accept our failure to contain the virus.
If we were responsible citizens, there would be no need for the police to force anyone to adhere to preventive measures.
There would have been no need to chase adults from crowded drinking joints and other risky gatherings.
There would be no need for no-mask-no-entry posters.
Certainly there would be no need for traffic police to reduce the sitting capacity of public transport.
These things were supposed to be common knowledge.
But Alas! Most Malawians keep frequenting crowded places, shunning masks and grumbling to wash hands with soap.
Let us all assist government in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. This virus will not be evicted by word or memos, but our collective effort.
Let us save mother Malawi. Padiwa sasewela.