I was very pleased to read of the European Court of Justice ruling on the 21st June that "courts may consider vaccines to be the cause of an illness, even in the absence of scientific evidence confirming a link".
I believe that this is a very significant development, has established a strong legal precedent and I hope bodes well for the thousands of young women affected by by the HPV vaccination programme in Ireland and around the world.
While the full text of the ruling is not available yet on the ECJ website, I am told that the finding states the following:
That the proximity between a person getting a vaccine and the occurrence of a disease, as well as the lack of personal and familial history of the illness and the existence of a significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following such vaccines being administered “may, where applicable, constitute sufficient evidence to make out such proof”. These three criteria would entirely fit with Gardasil.
The ruling also stated that "Where there is a lack of scientific consensus, the proof of the defect of the vaccine and of a causal link between the defect and the damage suffered may be made out by serious, specific and consistent evidence.”
While the case referred related to a French man who has since very sadly died of MS, the ruling stated that prior to getting the vaccination he had enjoyed an “excellent state of health” and noted the lack of family history of the disease, and proximity of the vaccination being given to the diagnosis of MS.
Yesterday’s decision allows for a court, “where there is not certain and irrefutable evidence, to conclude that there is a defect in a vaccine and a causal link between the defect and a disease on the basis of a set of evidence … which allows it to consider, with a sufficiently high degree of probability, that such a conclusion corresponds to the reality of the situation”.
While the system still “places the burden on the victim to prove the various elements of his case which, taken together, will provide the court hearing the case with a basis for its conclusion as to the existence of a defect in the vaccine and a causal link between that defect and the damage suffered”.
It states that “excluding any method of proof other than certain proof based on medical research, could make it excessively difficult [or] impossible to establish producer liability”.
The decision adds that national courts must ensure the evidence is “sufficiently serious, specific and consistent to warrant” its conclusion.
I welcome this ruling as opening a door for the thousands of young women who have been adversely affected by the HPV Vaccine. While vaccination programmes save millions of lives around the world there are those for whom Gardasil in particular has had serious life health affects. The ruling does I believe serve as a blueprint for those who wish to take cases against the manufacturers of of such products.
I hope that this ruling will give those young women and their families the hope that they deserve.