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BRUSSELS: A vaccine scheme co-led by the World Health Organization is setting up a compensation fund for people in poor nations who might suffer any side-effects from COVID-19 vaccines, aiming to allay fears that could hamper a global rollout of shots.

The mechanism is meant to avoid a repetition of delays experienced a decade ago during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, when inoculations were slowed down in dozens of low-income countries because there was no clear liability.

The scheme is being set up by the promoters of the COVAX vaccine facility, which is co-led by the WHO and GAVI, a global vaccine alliance, a COVAX document published on Thursday said. COVAX aims to distribute at least 2 billion effective shots around the world by the end of next year.

The scheme could foot the bill for 92 low-income countries, mostly in Africa and South-East Asia, meaning their governments would face little or no costs from claims brought by patients, should anything go unexpectedly wrong after a COVAX-distributed vaccine is administered.

However dozens of middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Lebanon, Gabon, Iran and most Latin American states, would not be offered this protection. "The COVAX Facility is developing a system to provide compensation to those individuals in any of the 92 economies ... that suffer unexpected SAEs (serious adverse events) associated with such vaccines or their administration," COVAX said.