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According to RebelNews, Canadian MP Anthony Housefather said

It's because these documents were signed at the beginning of the pandemic when everybody was desperate for vaccines, when companies were being told to rush vaccine production, do testing in an unprecedented way, a way they normally don't do it.

So these companies were exposed to way higher liability putting their products on the market on the market than they normally would because they didn't do the type of testing that normally takes these drugs years to come to market. They did it all in less than a year.

So that's why these companies said, ‘if I'm going to deliver you this product that I haven't tested in my normal way, I want to have different conditions’. And with countries all around the world competing with each other to get these, the countries had less leverage than they normally do.

The last sentence (after the emphasized one) can easily be checked out to be true, e.g. some of the EU countries did that according to a "Special report [on] EU COVID-19 vaccine procurement":

The Commission and Member States considered early introduction of the vaccine to be in the interest of public health. Member States were therefore willing to reduce manufacturers’ risks linked to liability for adverse effects. This was intended as a risk-sharing principle in the vaccine strategy. While respecting the general principle of liability under the Product Liability Directive, the provisions in the contracts concluded with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers differ from the pre-pandemic practice as Member States have taken over some of the financial risks normally assumed by the vaccine manufacturers.

What remains in a bit of doubt is if the highlighted sentence (in the 1st quote) was the main reason invoked by manufacturers during negotiations in asking for reduced liability, rather than being a more subtle allusion, which e.g. Reuters quotes the manufacturers association as being rather more vague in public:

The industry trading body, Vaccines Europe, said it was working with relevant authorities to agree a system of compensation that would avoid “endless delays through prohibitively expensive litigation with uncertain outcomes”. [...]

The EU stance on liabilities could partly explain why, despite having a bigger population than the United States, it is lagging Washington in securing potential COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. system shifts liability for vaccines fully to the government and shields drugmakers because widespread inoculation against disease is considered a benefit to society.

So, is there more direct evidence that's what the vaccine companies said in negotiations, i.e. they explicitly invoked the testing schedule as a reason (as opposed to e.g. making a comparison with other jurisdictions)?

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  • According to my health insurance there were differences in US/GB (emergency approval) compared to EU (conditional approval). I imagine negotiations to be quite different between those.
    – npst
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 11:31
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    Note that having reduced liability and actually causing harm are two different things. In practice the vaccines were extremely safe, even if they did have an extra layer of lawsuit mitigation. Still doesn't justify the mandates but important to call out. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 19:06
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    I feel like this question is confusing 3 different jurisdictions: Canada (whom Anthony Housefather is a representative), the US (discussed at the end of the 3rd quote), and the EU (and, indeed, probably each EU state has its own laws/regulations as well). Can you focus or separate your comments on each of these 3 jurisdictions? It seems the claim you want to verify is concerning Canada's case, so I'm not sure why discussions of the other 2 are relevant. As npst said above, negotiations in the EU are not binding in Canada, and vice-versa.
    – Ertai87
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 19:10
  • @Ertai87: well, if it can be documented in more detail that the vaccine mfg said those things in any of those regions I'd be satisfied, in sense of this Q. In some sense I'm lowering the bar. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 19:13
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    @Fizz Not to derail the conversation because this isn't your question, but this article might be enlightening as to why Canada got more vaccines per capita: ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/… . If you pay 1.5-2x more than your competitors in the bidding war, then you tend to win.
    – Ertai87
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 19:21

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