Buried in the fine print of Monday’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the Pfizer Comirnaty COVID vaccine are two critical facts that affect whether the vaccine can be mandated, and whether Pfizer can be held liable for injuries.
The press reported that vaccine mandates are now legal for military, healthcare workers, college students and employees in many industries. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has now required the vaccine for all teachers and school staff. The Pentagon is proceeding with its mandate for all military service members.
But there are several bizarre aspects to the FDA approval that will prove confusing to those not familiar with the pervasiveness of the FDA’s regulatory capture, or the depths of the agency’s cynicism.
First, the FDA acknowledges that while Pfizer has “insufficient stocks” of the newly licensed Comirnaty vaccine available, there is “a significant amount” of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine — produced under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) — still available for use.
Second, the FDA pointed out that the licensed Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine and the existing, EUA Pfizer vaccine are “legally distinct,” but proclaims that their differences do not “impact safety or effectiveness.”
There is a huge real-world difference between products approved under EUA compared with those the FDA has fully licensed.
EUA products are experimental under U.S. law. Both the Nuremberg Code and federal regulations provide that no one can force a human being to participate in this experiment. Under 21 U.S. Code Sec.360bbb-3(e)(1)(A)(ii)(III), “authorization for medical products for use in emergencies,” it is unlawful to deny someone a job or an education because they refuse to be an experimental subject. Instead, potential recipients have an absolute right to refuse EUA vaccines.
U.S. laws, however, permit employers and schools to require students and workers to take licensed vaccines.
EUA-approved COVID vaccines have an extraordinary liability shield under the 2005 Public Readiness and Preparedness Act. Vaccine manufacturers, distributors, providers and government planners are immune from liability. The only way an injured party can sue is if he or she can prove willful misconduct, and if the U.S. government has also brought an enforcement action against the party for willful misconduct. No such lawsuit has ever succeeded.
The government has created an extremely stingy compensation program, the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, to redress injuries from all EUA products. The program’s parsimonious administrators have compensated under 4% of petitioners to date — and not a single COVID vaccine injury — despite the fact that physicians, families and injured vaccine recipients have reported more than 600,000 COVID vaccine injuries.
At least for the moment, the Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine has no liability shield. Vials of the branded product, which say “Comirnaty” on the label, are subject to the same product liability laws as other U.S. products.