Narcolepsy Pandemrix Swine flu Finland
5 Oct 2011
Where the victim is a child, loss of earnings compensation could be paid to parents. After the 30-million euro fund for compensation is exhausted, the state will take responsibility for funding payouts.
The link between Pandemrix and subsequent onset of narcolepsy has been supported by research from Finland’s Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
In February, the National Institute for Health and Welfare admitted that the swine flu vaccine was likely a contributing factor to an increase in the number of narcolepsy cases among children in Finland. However, the authority noted that it was difficult to attribute the rise in cases to the vaccine.
Guzenina-Richardson says that the connection between Pandemrix and narcolepsy cases is clear.
So far, 96 such cases have been diagnosed, resulting in 70 claims for compensation.
Support from the state
Guzenina-Richardson says that the state will contribute to compensation funds in case the insurance pool runs dry before satisfying all claims. The insurance pool is comprised of companies If, Pohjola Insurance and Tapiola.
“The pool’s claims reserve is 30 million euros, after which the state will provide compensation on the same basis,” the minister says.
Guzenina-Richardson does not want to put a figure on the upper limit of compensation for each patient.
“The cases will have to be considered in detail and, in addition to compensation, there will be a need to think of ways to help families touched by this tragedy,” the minister says.
The working group says it is most likely that the vaccine increased the likelihood of falling ill with narcolepsy in conjunction with some other factor or factors.
It expects to confirm the preliminary findings within a few months.
Fifty-two Finnish children who were given the vaccine last winter subsequently came down with narcolepsy, which can be a debilitating lifelong condition. That is many times more than the annual average in recent years.
An increase was also reported in Sweden, but not so far in other countries where the vaccine was used.
"The trigger for narcolepsy remains unclear, which makes it difficult to evaluate the link to the vaccine," says Kari Välimäki, Permanent Secretary at the Minister of Social Affairs and Health.
The nation's highest-ranking physician, Risto Pelkonen, told the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat that the families of these narcolepsy patients should be reimbursed by the state.