Based upon past experience with other vaccines, the proposed administration of Ebola vaccines (once testing has been completed) will inevitably result in at least some adverse events that will give rise to legal liabilities of only crudely estimable magnitude at this time. Manufacturers, beneficiary governments (e.g., Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone), supporting governments (e.g. U.S., U.K.), individuals suffering adverse events, and populations benefiting from widespread vaccination against the Ebola virus all have a shared interest in recognizing, understanding, and managing potential liability as effectively as possible within the framework of a global public health response. There are multiple options available to the global public health community in addressing potential legal liabilities associated with Ebola vaccines, including (1) requiring manufacturers to pay any valid claims, (2) establishing a sui generis product liability insurance scheme for Ebola vaccine claims, (3) agreeing that beneficiary governments compensate their residents for adverse events, (4) issuing declarations of immunity by beneficiary and supporting governments, (5) calling upon beneficiary governments to appear in judicial proceedings on behalf of manufacturers, and/or (6) creating one or more mechanisms for supporting governments to pay for claims relating to adverse events of Ebola vaccine administration.
Sam Halabi & John Monahan, Sharing the Burden of Ebola Vaccine Related Adverse Events, 24 Tul. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 131 (2015).