September 21, 2022 13:59
A court has ordered the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to compensate a man in his 30s who suffered a stroke after an injection of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine.
This is the first time that a court of law has held the government liable for COVID vaccine-related side effects. Nine similar lawsuits have been filed seeking compensation, and the latest ruling is expected to have an impact on the other pending cases.
The Seoul Administrative Court on Tuesday sided with a 33-year-old man who sued the KDCA after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage and other side effects after his AstraZeneca vaccine shot in April. He developed a fever, dizziness and his legs became numb a day after the jab. His wife sued the KDCA for the W3.37 million medical treatment fee and W250,000 used to hire a carer, but the agency refused claiming that causality cannot be proven (US$1=W1,393).
But the court said the plaintiff was "very healthy before vaccination and displayed no history of neurological disorders, while a deformity was detected in his brain that did not exist before the vaccine injection."
"We cannot completely rule out causality between the symptoms and the vaccine even if there is considerable evidence supporting another cause as long as the telltale symptoms appeared after the vaccine injection," it added.
The KDCA immediately appealed the ruling.
Fewer than one-third of victims suffering from side effects after vaccination have received compensation. According to the KDCA on Tuesday, the total number of applications for compensation, which had been filed since late February last year stood at 87,304, including 3,681 appeals.
After reviewing 64,984 cases, the KDCA decided to compensate the claimants in 20,801 cases, or 32 percent, including eight deaths, by establishing causality between the vaccination and victims' suffering.
Some 15,663 will have medical expenses reimbursed. They can also claim nursing expenses back up to W50,000 a day. The families of eight victims who died of thrombocytopenia and myocarditis will be paid W459 million each. The remaining 5,138 claimants will get up to W300,000 for medical expenses.
The KDCA said, "Currently, 16,095 claims are being reviewed by local governments. Therefore, the overall number of claims for reimbursement will increase."
But the government has been accused of setting excessively narrow parameters for causality between vaccination and side effect, where the burden of proof is on the claimants and they are offered no expert support.
More than 470,000 complaints have been received after vaccination. The vast majority or 96 percent were minor allergic reactions like headaches, but 3.6 percent or 17,269 cases were serious side effects such as acute cardiovascular injury. As many as 1,849 people died.
Tuesday's court order could open the floodgates for large numbers of further lawsuits.
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