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Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

Payouts for three jab-linked cases

Three people were paid a total of HK$450,000 in compensation after suffering from complications following Covid-19 vaccinations.
Two had serious allergic reactions and one suffered Bell's palsy facial paralysis.

It was the first time authorities announced successful applications under the HK$1 billion indemnity fund, though none of the three suffered long-term or permanent health damage.

But there was limited information about their cases. Ages, genders and whether they took the Beijing-made Sinovac or the German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine were not provided, and nor were individual payouts.

As of last Thursday the Indemnity Fund for Adverse Events Following Immunization with Covid-19 Vaccines had received 74 applications for compensation and three cases involved death.

Authorities have also rejected 13 applications, including 11 due to injuries that were deemed to be unrelated to vaccinations by the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment.

Of the other two unsuccessful applications, one involved a death and the other an injury that did not pass the severity assessment of serious adverse events.

Authorities are still processing 58 cases - two deaths and 56 injuries - pending submissions of documents, reviews by the expert committee, reports from medical institutions and severity assessments.

The compensation mechanism classifies applicants into two age groups, 39 or below and 40 or above.

The highest compensation is HK$3 million for someone under 40 suffering serious health consequences. The amount for cases involving death is HK$2.5 million.

For people of 40 or above, the compensation for a serious health hit is HK$2.5 million and HK$2 million for a death.

Inoculated people will be eligible for lump-sum payments if they possess a certification of a serious adverse event issued by a registered medical practitioner and the evaluation outcome of the expert committee cannot rule out post-inoculation problems are unrelated to the jabs.

Insurer AXA Hong Kong has been appointed the third-party administrator to process applications of the indemnity fund.

Apart from administrative duties and vetting of documents, the insurer is also responsible for severity assessments and recommendations of a payout level.

But the power to establish causality between an adverse event and the vaccine lies solely with the expert committee.

The fund aims to provide prompt financial support to those suffering from post-inoculation adverse events. Successful applicants can still apply to jab manufacturers for compensation, but they must return grants from the indemnity fund if they win lawsuits against them.

Alex Lam Chi-yau, chairman of the Hong Kong Patients' Voices group, said authorities should improve transparency and provide details of each case, including conditions and amounts of compensation granted.

"People can refer to these cases and be prepared for possible adverse outcomes after vaccination," he said. "If the compensation is sufficient it may even give them confidence to get the jab."

It is understood that the compensation for a person aged below 40 who suffers facial paralysis for a period from seven days to 26 weeks is capped at HK$120,000.

Lam also believed that an applicant who suffered an immediate serious allergic reaction among the people in the first payout received the highest compensation among the three.

As of Sunday, the Department of Health had received 3,605 reports of post-vaccination adverse events, including 21 deaths within 14 days of a vaccination being administered.

By Tuesday, 1.79 million people - 26.3 percent of Hong Kong's 6.82 million population above 12 - had received at least one shot of vaccine.

Of them, 781,600 received the Beijing-made Sinovac and 1.01 million the German-made Comirnaty shot.

And 1.22 million - 17.8 percent - had both jabs.

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