There are two kinds of immunity at play in COVID-19 vaccines. There is the immunity everybody knows about—the kind that our body produces to protect us from the SARS-CoV-2 virus—and the less-discussed legal immunity that the vaccine companies secured for themselves early into the pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, drug companies can face lawsuits when their products result in injury or death as a result of their negligence or misconduct. But the pandemic presented an extreme stress test of normal regulatory procedures, and the U.S. government granted requests by vaccine makers for blanket immunity. This immunity extends to the FDA (which authorized emergency use of the vaccines) and employers who require workers to be vaccinated in order to comply with government mandates.
As part of a recent Roundtable discussion about the pharmaceutical industry and COVID-19, Rob Nelson raised the issue of industry immunity with Joe Runge, a patent lawyer and published scientist, James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, and journalist Alexander Zaitchik.
Watch the full panel now: