LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s health minister said on Tuesday that “controversy” had arisen over a liability waiver in the country’s negotiations to obtain COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc.
Pilar Mazzetti told Congress that Peruvian officials had been in “constant contact” with Pfizer since July but that a dispute arose in their negotiations in December.
She said she could not give details because of a confidentiality agreement but added that they related to “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,” she told lawmakers.
Several other countries, including Brazil and Argentina, have raised concerns about liability waivers in their negotiations with Pfizer.
World Bank officials said on Tuesday they were working with countries to address the liability waiver issue which they said had emerged as one of the key obstacles to sealing vaccine supply deals.
Peru has hosted trials for COVID-19 vaccines developed by China`s Sinopharm, U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca Plc and is in negotiations to secure vaccines from other companies, Mazzetti said.
Peru’s foreign minister told a legislative commission last month that Peru had resumed conversations with AstraZeneca after cutting off negotiations in October when it alleged the company had not provided adequate data on its testing.
Peru has also signed up to receive 13.2 million doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility, an alliance led by the World Health Organization and GAVI.
Mazzetti told Congress on Tuesday that the doses had previously been expected in July but the government had been “recently” told by COVAX to expect them “in the first three months of this year.”
(Reporting by Maria Cervantes, Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Paul Simao)