Ministry mum on COVID-19 death liability

Andrew Kathindi

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has dodged questions on who would be liable if the COVID-19 vaccine administered is found to have caused the death of a 62-year-old un-identified man.

This comes after Ministry of Health Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, was quoted in the media last month saying private companies will be liable for any harm arising from the vaccines. “That’s a legal question. And when you have an issue that deals with liability, the legal principles will be applied and a determination will be made through a legal process to indicate how that liability can be apportioned,” Nangombe said.

“It will depend when applying the principles related to liability, how this liability will be apportioned. A legal process will have to follow to determine who is liable. I cannot answer that question until such a time as something like that has been determined.”

While the ED could not divulge which vaccine the deceased received, it is believed that he received AstraZeneca vaccine and died the same day after being inoculated. Namibia currently has Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines, however, people over 60 are not eligible for the Chinese manufactured, Sinopharm vaccine.

According to the health ministry, the deceased was screened for eligibility. Investigations to determine the actual cause of death have started and are ongoing. According to Nangombe, there is no timeline on when the investigation is likely to be completed. “Investigation is being conducted so that it is completed expeditiously. We don’t know what the investigation will find. Those that are conducting the investigation will be guided by whatever facts they are able to uncover. That is what will determine the speed of the investigation.”

This comes after another investigation that was launched by the health ministry last year after the death of Shiloh-Dane Ponhele Kosmas, the infant son of Lavinia Kanyumbo and Damson Kosmas, that was recorded as a COVID-19 death last August, is yet to be completed after the parents claimed negligence and not COVID-19 led to their son’s death.

Namibia currently has over 150 000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which were received as donations from China, India and procured through the COVAX Facility. The ministry expects another 43 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week through the COVAX Facility.

Thus far, 56 759 people have received the first doses of from the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. The currently has 51 827 cumulative confirmed cases and 612 COVID-19 deaths.

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