January 06, 2021
A nurse prepares a dose of the
Pfizer/BioNtech coronavirus vaccine.
© Reuters / Ivan Alvarado
Peru has reached an
impasse with Pfizer as it
negotiates a deal for a
Covid-19 vaccine, the country's
health minister said, citing a conflict over legal immunity
for the pharma firm that could undermine Peru's sovereignty.
While officials have remained in "constant contact" with
Pfizer since the summer, the talks
ran into trouble last month amid "controversy" over some clauses of
the agreement, including those linked to,
pricing and delivery,
as well as legal immunities for the pharmaceutical giant
in the case its inoculation leads to death or injury,
Pilar Mazzetti told lawmakers
"With Pfizer there
are some details where there is no agreement," Mazzetti said,
"This has to do with
prices and the delivery schedule" as well as "the waiving of
important elements such as... jurisdictional immunity."
It is true that one needs
the vaccine but it is also true that there are aspects related to
aspects of our sovereignty that the country has to protect... it has
to do with risk for future generations.
The health chief noted that since most aspects of the negotiations
are protected under a confidentiality agreement, she could not offer
further detail on the ongoing row, but assured that the talks
"We hope that the
controversy will be resolved so we will be able to determine
when the vaccine will arrive," she went on.
Though the country
announced a final deal with Pfizer for nearly 10 million vaccine
doses in late November, Mazzetti said the process stalled after some
clauses in the agreement required "more in-depth analysis" to
determine whether they are compatible with Peruvian law.
The Latin American nation is not the first to voice concerns about
legal liability waivers in their talks with the pharma firm, with
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro observing last month that,
"it is quite clear
that they are not responsible for any side effects. If you
become an alligator, it's your problem."
Officials in Argentina
have raised similar worries...
As the liability concerns become a major obstacle for some
nations, the World Bank said on Tuesday that it is working with over
100 countries to address the issue, whether through local
legislative efforts or other processes.
The World Bank Group's
David Malpass, also noted that
the agency aims to distribute $160 billion in resources by June to
'help' developing countries obtain immunizations and fight the
While Pfizer's jab has been granted approval by health officials in
a number of countries - as well as the
World Health Organization - many on
an emergency basis, several alarming reports of adverse reactions
have emerged following inoculations.
Most recently, a
pediatric surgery assistant in Portugal suddenly died after
receiving the jab earlier this week, while two nursing home
residents in Norway passed away days after taking their first dose.
It remains unclear
whether the deaths were related to the vaccine, however.
Peru has hosted clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines developed
by a variety of other firms, including,
Johnson & Johnson,
...and is negotiating
deliveries from 20 different laboratories, the health chief said.
Talks with AstraZeneca
similarly stalled in October, with the government stating the
company had not provided enough data about its jab, however
negotiations with that firm are also ongoing, according to Reuters.