By James Murphy
A man from the Canadian province of British Columbia is set to be among the first in that nation to receive compensation as a result of a serious medical condition that was likely caused by receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Ross Wightman, who resides in the Okanagan region of B.C., was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare nervous system condition, which authorities say was likely caused by receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in April of last year.
GBS can cause paralysis and muscle weakness — as it has in Wightman’s case — and can even lead to death.
After receiving his first dose of the vaccine in April of last year, Wightman began to experience severe back pain. He was treated several times in the emergency room until he reported facial tingling on a Saturday and was admitted to the hospital.
“By Tuesday, I had full facial paralysis. I could blink but I couldn’t smile or show my teeth at all, and had paralysis from the waist down as well,” Wightman said.
Early on, Wightman suspected that the vaccine might have been responsible for his illness.
“At that point, [concern regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine was about] blood clotting,” not GBS, Wightman said.
Wightman is now back at home in rural British Columbia, but he initially spent 67 days in the hospital.
“I had quite a few ups and downs really early,” he said.
And Wightman continues to struggle with his vaccine-related problems. He struggles to walk by himself, has trouble making his way up stairs unassisted, and still has partial paralysis.
“Every day is a grind,” Wightman said. The compensation “doesn’t change my condition, or the way I feel overly — it’s just nice to have,”
The Canada Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP) was instituted in June of 2021. The Canadian government will cover the cost of Wightman’s compensation. AstraZeneca and other vaccine manufacturers are largely shielded against product liability in Canada and many other nations.
The first year of the VISP program in Canada has seen more than 770 claims of vaccine injury. Thus far, only eight have been approved, meaning there is a “probable link” between the vaccine and a claimant’s “serious and permanent” injury.
At least Wightman was among those who will receive compensation for a vaccine-related injury.
“I’d rather not be in that club, in a heartbeat,” Wightman said. “It’s nice to have some recognition and there’s vindication.”
“That was quite vindicating,” Wightman added. “To have it in hand, in paper, acknowledging it has been vindicating.”
Wightman has not disclosed how much he will receive from the VISP program. The program notes, “The amount of financial support an individual will receive will be determined on a case by case basis.” The maximum lump sum that a recipient can receive is reportedly $284,000.
Wightman has said that he did not qualify for the maximum amount. He also told CTV he is eligible for income replacement at $90,000 per year.
The process in getting approval from VISP was arduous. According to Wightman, he and his wife frequently contacted the program in the year since they applied.
“It’s indicative of our persistence with the program. Every week or every two weeks, phoning, emailing, ‘what’s happening,’” Wightman said.
While the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have all had their issues with side effects, the AstraZeneca vaccine was troubled early and often with reports of vaccine-related injuries.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has never been approved for use in the United States but has been used widely in other parts of the world, was dogged early on with reports of serious blood clots. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration concluded that there was a “likely” link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clot deaths.
Denmark also banned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in April of 2021 over what it called “a known risk of severe adverse effects from vaccination with AstraZeneca.” Israel, the United Kingdom, and even the European Union noted a higher risk of serious side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine, although those entities consistently said that not getting vaccinated was worse than not getting the AstraZeneca shot.
Still, AstraZeneca and the other vaccine manufacturers will, by and large, face no financial repercussions. Canada has their VISP program, the United States has the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and other countries have versions as well. But the manufacturers of these sometimes dangerous vaccines are getting off scot-free.