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Parliamentary questions
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9 September 2020
E-004950/2020
Question for written answer E-004950/2020
to the Commission
Rule 138
Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL), Marc Botenga (GUE/NGL)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Liability for defects in COVID-19 vaccines

The Financial Times has reported that the European pharmaceutical industry’s vaccines lobby has pushed the EU for exemptions that would protect its members from lawsuits in case of problems with any new COVID-19 vaccines. On 7 September 2020, the Deputy Director-General of DG SANTE came to answer questions from Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety about the ongoing negotiations of contracts for the purchase of potential vaccines. Several Members of Parliament asked her about the so-called ‘civil liability clauses’ in the contracts. The Commission representative confirmed that pharmaceutical companies would remain civilly liable for any vaccine defects, but could avoid paying indemnification in the event of so-called ‘hidden defects.’ No further details were given on the specific meaning or legal scope of a ‘hidden defect’ in a vaccine.

1. Could the Commission specify how and by whom ‘hidden defects’ will be defined for potential COVID-19 vaccines and advance purchase agreements?

2. Could the Commission provide specific examples of cases in which pharmaceutical companies involved will be wholly or partially exempted from paying indemnification under this clause?

3. Will Member States have to pay the indemnification when manufacturers are exempted from this obligation?

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