Healthcare/Biosafety

How Safe are Vaccines Georgia Plans to Purchase?

23 October, 2020

On October 19, 2020, Facebook user Leila Maxaroblidze shared the post published by another Facebook user Davit Chabukashvili earlier on September 5 to the public group “ბინების, სახლების, აგარაკების, მიწის ნაკვეთების - ყიდვა გაყიდვა” (Sale of apartments, houses and land plots). The post notes that the Ministry of Health of Georgia has signed an advance agreement on the purchase of 700,000 coronavirus vaccines, adding that the manufacturer seeks exemption from liability for side effects and instead imposes full responsibility on the purchasing country. Davit Chabukashvili also writes citing scientists that such vaccine will cause human death in a couple of years that is part of the depopulation plan.

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The post involves half-true, manipulative and conspiratorial claims: 1. It is half-truth that a vaccine manufacturer will be exempt from liability for side effects, because the COVAX Facility, also joined by Georgia, unites nine vaccine manufacturers of whom only AstraZeneca made such statement. 2. The claim as if the vaccine purchased by Georgia is life-threatening is manipulative, while the opinion that COVID-19 vaccine will cause death and depopulation is a conspiracy theory. 

  • Georgia has already sent an application to COVAX, where nine candidate vaccines are already in development, regarding the purchase of vaccines. Only the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that it seeks exemption from liability for side effects of COVID-19 vaccine.

On August 31, Georgia officially joined the COVAX Facility launched by the UN in April 2020. The initiative aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as diagnostics and treatments, and guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to them for people in all countries. Amiran Gamkrelidze, director of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, said on September 2 that Georgia sent an official application to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, regarding the purchase of about 700,000 vaccines. To clarify the details of the deal, Myth Detector requested public information from the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. The information provided by the Ministry does not specify whether Georgia ordered vaccines from a specific company manufacturing one of nine candidate vaccines involved in the COVAX initiative.

What is COVAX Facility and what does exemption from liability for side effects mean?

The COVAX Facility is cooperating with the most promising vaccine manufacturers, whose candidate vaccines will apparently undergo all three phases of clinical trials most quickly and meet all safety standards. Only after one of the nine candidate vaccines is officially registered as COVID-19 vaccine, the COVAX Facility will purchase about 2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines and offer them equally to all participating countries, proportional to their populations. Candidate vaccines included in the COVID-19 vaccine portfolio are presently undergoing various phases of clinical trials. Two of them – one developed through collaboration between Oxford University and AstraZeneca and the other – by U.S. Moderna Inc. – are undergoing phase 3 clinical trials. This phase is followed by the process of vaccine licensure to prevent COVID-19.

Georgia, like other countries that joined the COVAX Facility, will purchase the vaccine that will undergo all phases of clinical trials first and be registered by the World Health Organization (WHO) or other authorized agency as a coronavirus vaccine. The World Health Organization has made it clear to countries interested in joining its COVAX Facility for vaccine purchases that pharmaceutical firms may ask for no-fault schemes if the vaccine is showing side effects in several years after its use.  

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca that has developed one of nine COVID-19 vaccine candidates said in July 2020 that it cannot take the risk if in several years their vaccine is showing side effects. The company also stated that for most countries it is acceptable to take that risk on their shoulders because it is in their national interest.

On September 25, 2020, the company AstraZeneca and the EU member states struck a deal based on which the states will assume both legal and financial liabilities if the company’s vaccine shows side effects in several years. The European Commission continues discussing similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers to ensure that future risks do not hamper the vaccine development process. AstraZeneca, however, remains the only vaccine maker with whom the deal was struck. One of the reasons why AstraZeneca has secured backing is a relatively low price offered by the company.  

  • Georgia will receive the vaccine once its safety is approved and a relevant agency authorizes it 

The agreement between a manufacturer and a purchasing country on exemption from liability for side effects of COVID-19 vaccine does not mean that vaccine safety will not be properly examined in the process of its development. Preclinical and clinical phases of research actually serve this purpose. 

According to the WHO vaccine protocol, each vaccine should undergo preclinical testing involving laboratory research and its use in animals followed by subsequent clinical studies in humans. The phase I clinical studies carry out initial testing of a vaccine in small numbers (e.g. 20) of healthy adults. Phase II studies involve larger numbers of subjects and are intended to provide preliminary information about a vaccine’s ability to produce its desired effect in the target population. Then it moves to the final stage during which the issue of widespread use of a vaccine should be solved. Any reports about dangerous and serious side effects revealed during any phase may lead to temporary or complete suspension of product development. 

In the letter sent to Myth Detector, the Ministry of Health of Georgia noted that the vaccine will be purchased only after one of the candidate vaccines is granted authorization by the World Health Organization or a relevant regulatory body.

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A conspiracy theory, according to which the coronavirus vaccine will cause human death and is aimed at depopulation, along with other fake news and disinformation about vaccines, has been widely circulating in various contexts. Below are Myth Detector’s earlier publications on the same issue:

 

Spread of Davit Chabukashvili’s post on social media 

Davit Chabukashvili first published the post on September 5 and it went viral rapidly. As of October 21, the post has 6,100 shares. Besides individual users, the post was shared to various public groups in September, including to the group Corona Mafia, where various users shared the same post twice – on September 16 and September 18. On September 16, the post was shared to the group “ანტი-მასონობა. „ანტიქრისტეს“ ახალი მსოფლიო წესრიგი (NWO) (Anti-Masonry; New World Order (NWO) of Antichrist). The group frequently spreads various conspiracy theories about international organizations, vaccines and pandemic. 

As of October 21, apart of its original version, the October 19 post has most reactions – 110 shares in the group “ბინების, სახლების, აგარაკების, მიწის ნაკვეთების - ყიდვა გაყიდვა” (Sale of apartments, houses and land plots). The same user also shared Davit Chabukashvili’s post to another group - КОРЕННЫЕ СУХУМЧАНЕ.


Prepared by Medea Sulamanidze