COVID-19 Vaccine Compensation Programs Failing Those Who Need It Most

Certain governments across the globe have established a compensation program to compensate their citizens who suffer injuries or death from the COVID-19 shots and treatments recommended during the pandemic.

This article will examine and compare three such programs from the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

While slightly different in the amount of compensation that is paid out and time to file a claim, there are commonalities between the three programs, such as the claimant must prove causation between the vaccine and the adverse effect, something that critics say is often difficult to do.

After two years, the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) has not awarded any of its nearly 10,000 claims alleging injuries or deaths as a result of COVID-19 vaccines. Three claims have been approved for payment but are awaiting a medical benefits review, according to the federal agency in charge of the program.

Brianne Dressen, a co-founder of the React19 nonprofit and who was severely injured in the AstraZeneca phase 3 trial, said that she is one of the petitioners waiting for a response from the CICP.

“In comparison to other [government] programs, the application process isn’t bad,” Dressen told The Epoch Times. “The lack of follow-up has been questioned for sure. Not very many people have actually gotten feedback from the CICP.”

Dressen said she was one of the few people who was contacted by the program asking for her medical records about two months after submitting her claim. “But now it’s just sitting there, I haven’t heard anything since,” she said.

Although AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, the CICP does not state on its website that Americans who were part of a trial will not qualify for compensation.

After receiving her first dose of the AstraZeneca shot in November 2020, Dressen suffered severe side effects that included her skin being so sensitive that she couldn’t bear the touch of her young son who wanted to comfort her, and not being able to tolerate any kind of sound. She had to confine herself to her bedroom 24/7.

She was eventually diagnosed with post-vaccine nerve damage by a physician at the National Institutes of Health.

Dressen, like other vaccine-injured individuals, believes that vaccine manufacturers and federal officials haven’t done enough to address vaccine injuries.

“AstraZeneca was not involved whatsoever, in any of my care,” Dressen said. “I had not received a single phone call from AstraZeneca up until this day.”

She added, “They have sent me a series of emails beginning mid-part of this year, asking for medical records to finally process a claim. We sent them everything as soon as we could. And then of course, again, it’s been months without any feedback … you know, I’m coming up on two years, my two-year anniversary is in a month. And so the fact that the drug company is completely you know, dismissing my need as a result of their drug, it’s been very disheartening for me, and it’s not what I signed up for.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to AstraZeneca for comment.

Dressen, a preschool teacher, saw the toll that the pandemic took on elementary children, including the mask-wearing, and wanted to help end the pandemic by enrolling in the trial because of the way the vaccines were presented by the government and doctors. “I trusted the government and I trusted the doctors,” she told The Epoch Times earlier this year. “I don’t anymore.”

Dressen has come a long way in her recovery, especially after being part of an NIH study where she was treated with an experimental drug that consists of “a bunch of immune cells.” She continues to use the medication every two weeks since the study ended. She is no longer sensitive to light and sound, and she is able to go for walks around several blocks, “which is huge.”

“It’s definitely a medication I’m going to need to stay on for life,” Dressen said, adding that the drug is so expensive, her out-of-pocket fee is $1,100 biweekly. She’s grateful for being part of the NIH study because of that, her health insurance was willing to pay for part of the $3,500 drug.

The organization Dressen is involved with, React19, consists of members who have been injured by one of the COVID-19 shots administered in the United States and who volunteer their time to help other vaccine-injured.

React19 is a non-profit organization that provides financial, physical, and emotional support to those who have experienced COVID-19 vaccine adverse events.

“Every single dollar we bring in, we turn around and we give back to the injured, kind of like a Robin Hood situation,” Dressen said. “We had an 8-year-old that was in a wheelchair and diapers, and we were able to get her money through React19, and we got her a doctor … and the girl walked into school this fall as if nothing had happened to her.

“You know, it’s all worth it even just to give one 8-year-old girl her life back, but at the same time, we’re doing the government’s job. This should not be the responsibility of a small mishmash of sick people to figure this out, and to find money to support these people, and to find medical support for these people.

“The government has told the public that all of these programs are in place in case something goes wrong. The truth is—and the public is not aware of this—those programs are broken. Every single one of them, they’re all smoke and mirrors,” she added.

The U.S. compensation program has the shortest timeframe allowed for people to file a claim, within a year of receiving a vaccine or other countermeasures.

Sara (who wishes to not use her real name) had a 75-year-old father who passed away several days following his third dose of a Pfizer mRNA shot in August 2021.

After getting his second shot, her father experienced severe back pain that radiated down his right leg and worsened every day. He also began losing sensation in the leg and dragging it when he walked.

“I had to take him to a doctor and they gave him some pills to help him alleviate the pain, and so he could sleep a bit,” Sara told The Epoch Times. “But it just got worse and worse.”

Sara said that her father was hesitant to get the booster shot, but without it, the government wouldn’t recognize him as being fully vaccinated and he wouldn’t be able to enter places of business, including grocery stores. Since he lived by himself, he reluctantly went and got the shot.

Sara said that she wasn’t aware of a compensation program for people who’ve been injured or died due to the COVID-19 injection. She also doesn’t remember the Israeli government making an announcement about it.

Although it wasn’t made publicly known, the COVID-19 injections were added to Israel’s compensation law in February 2021.

Israel only allows people one of two ways to submit a claim for compensation.

The first is to file a claim proving the government was negligent by using the country’s tort law, according to Iris Agassi Maimon, a vaccine lawyer representing a doctor who was severely injured by the Pfizer COVID-19 shot.

“You have to prove the state’s negligence, the damages, and the causal link between the negligence and the damages caused,” Agassi Maimon told The Epoch Times. And lawyers have found this very difficult.

The few claims that have tried to prove the government’s negligence regarding injury from other vaccines have all failed, Agassi Maimon said, adding that “it’s just too hard to prove, or the state just won’t accept any proof.”

The second way to try to get compensation is through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Law that was passed in 1989 to compensate any person who has been harmed by a vaccine. With the compensation law, claimants only need to provide supporting evidence of the causal relationship between the jab and the physical or mental injury. Compensation covers a disability that may have occurred temporarily or is permanent.

The claim is heard and decided by a committee of experts made up of two doctors and a judge.

Agassi Maimon says that the program caps the amount of compensation paid at “only one million shekels [$282,000],” regardless if an individual became 100 percent disabled from the injection.

“This is very low … I’m not aware of anyone receiving compensation for COVID-19 vaccination under this mechanism,” she said.

She also added that “even though there are two ways [for compensation], I think the both of them miss the purpose of the law. The burden of proving a causal link between the COVID vaccine and the injury is very difficult.”

“So the law in Israel, in its current form, therefore doesn’t achieve its goal and doesn’t provide a good response for the people affected by the COVID-19 vaccine.”

In a study that examined the objective and barriers of the vaccine compensation law, a judge who was interviewed by the author revealed that he had never awarded a claim that was submitted to him “because no one managed to pass the bar of proving a causal link … and this, in my opinion, is one of the law’s faults.” The study was published in the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research in September 2021.

In addition to the difficulty in proving causation, the author said that it is impossible to meet the requirements to meet the scientific causality based on the Bradford Hill criteria. Critics of the program are calling for the government to make it easier to prove causality.

Data on claims filed to the compensation and the amount paid are not published on the Israeli Minister of Health’s (MoH) website. Israelis have three years from the time they learn of their injury to file a claim with the compensation law or seven years if through the tort law, according to Agassi Maimon.

The MoH did not return The Epoch Times’ emails inquiring information on the number of claims related to the COVID-19 vaccines that have been filed to the compensation program and how many have been awarded.

Israel is the only country to sign a unique agreement (pdf) with Pfizer allowing its executives access to some of the country’s health data in exchange for early shipment of the vaccines that were authorized in December 2020.

Pfizer did not reply to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

People seriously injured or family members of those who’ve died as a result of a COVID-19 shot in the UK can claim damages from the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme (VDPS) for up to 120,000 pounds ($133,000). However, claimants must prove that they are at least 60 percent disabled due to vaccination or they are not qualified for compensation.

Charlotte Wright, whose husband died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot, was the first of a dozen people to receive payment from the VDPS. She and others were awarded 120,000 pounds regardless of the victim’s condition.

“So whoever gets a yes [to payment], gets the same thing, there’s not a sliding scale,” Wright told The Epoch Times. “There’s people in worse situations than I am … so if it’s a yes, then you get 120,000. If it’s no, you don’t get anything.”

A spokesperson at the NHS Business Service Authority in charge of the payment scheme wrote in an email to The Epoch Times that the “VDPS is not a compensation scheme” but rather that it “provides a one-off tax-free payment.”

“All claims are medically assessed by an independent, third-party medical assessor—registered doctors with a license to practice,” the spokesperson said. And People have about six years upon receiving the vaccine to file with the program.

According to the agency’s most recent response to a Freedom of Information request for claims figure that the agency makes public on its website, 2,407 COVID-19 vaccine claims have been submitted as of Aug. 12.

Of the 2,470 claims, 52 have been given a decision: 12 were entitled to a payment, 13 were “rejected after medical assessment,” and 27 did not meet the scheme’s criteria.

“£1,080,000 [$1.19 million] in Vaccine Damage Payments has been paid in total to claimants who have submitted a claim in respect of a COVID-19 vaccine,” the agency wrote.

The UK government allows people to “still take legal action to claim compensation” even after they were awarded by the payment scheme for their vaccine injury or the death of a family member. However, the amount of any compensation scheme payment will be deducted from the court award.

Wright’s husband, Stephen Wright, a clinical psychologist and a father of two young sons, was sent to the hospital where “he suffered a stroke and passed [away]” on Jan. 26, 2021, 10 days following his first dose of the AstraZeneca jab. He was only 32 years old.

He was healthy and fit prior to receiving the shot, according to Wright.

It wasn’t until several months later that Wright—through a discussion with a hematologist from the hospital—learned that her husband’s death was due to a blood clot that developed after receiving the vaccine. He also had seizures, multiple brain bleeds, and a very low platelet count.

AstraZeneca was requested by the European drug regulators to update its product label to list the serious condition “as an extremely rare potential side effect” in April 2021. The viral-vector vaccine was granted emergency use authorization in the United Kingdom on Dec. 30, 2020, and was initially distributed to priority groups that included health and care workers.

According to the UK’s adverse events reporting system, 446 cases of blood clotting events with low platelets following an AstraZeneca shot were reported as of Sept. 28, 2022. Of the 446, 220 occurred in women and 221 in men ages 18 to 93.

“The overall case fatality rate was 18% with 80 deaths, six of which occurred after the second dose,” the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency wrote, adding that the “overall incidence after first or unknown doses was 15.9 per million doses.”

“Considering the different numbers of patients vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in different age groups, the data indicate that there is a higher reported incidence rate in the younger adult age groups following the first dose compared to the older groups (21.7 per million doses in those aged 18-49 years compared to 11.3 per million doses in those aged 50 years and over).”

About 24.9 million first doses of the AstraZeneca injection have been given in the UK and 24.2 million doses of the second shot as of Sept. 28.

Claire Hibbs, spokesperson for the Vaccine, Injured, Bereaved UK (VIB UK) organization, said that she was never informed about filing a claim with the payment scheme while she was hospitalized.

Hibbs told The Epoch Times that the “consultants at my original hospital never even mentioned it and they were even reluctant to talk about vaccine damage or vaccine injury.”

It wasn’t until after she was discharged and reached out to a lawyer regarding her situation that she was informed about the payment program. “I was never aware of it before,” Hibbs said. “It certainly wasn’t something that was made public during the vaccine rollout.”

Hibbs developed vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) about 10 days following her first dose of the AstraZeneca shot on March 31, 2021. She said she’s also been diagnosed with chronic migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of vaccination. She has been unable to work due to her injury.

She has been waiting for over a year to hear back on her claim. Many people, like Hibbs, don’t know the existence of the VDPS.

Prior to getting the vaccine, Hibbs was healthy and enjoyed going to the mountains often to hike. Now, she only goes there for fresh air, saying that she doesn’t “have the energy to do it anymore.”

Both Hibbs and Wright are calling for a reform to the outdated and non-responsive program. Electronic filing is not available. And like in the United States, the claimants do not know if their case has been assigned to someone.

Hibbs has sent an FOI request to the government asking about the criteria used to determine who meets the 60 percent disability to be awarded payment. She has not received a response but was informed that the compensation scheme has “qualified doctors” who can make these decisions.

Reporting from The Epoch Times.