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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – In a pair of post-Christmas tweets, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky highlighted one of the key reasons for ongoing distrust of the new COVID-19 vaccines: federal rules shielding drug companies from consequences for the downsides of their products under certain conditions.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act of 2005 “authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to limit legal liability for losses relating to the administration of medical countermeasures such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.” Near the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, HHS invoked the Act in declaring the virus a “public health emergency.”

Under this “sweeping” immunity, CRS explains, the federal government, state governments, “manufacturers and distributors of covered countermeasures,” and licensed or otherwise-authorized health professionals distributing those countermeasures are shielded from “all claims of loss” stemming from those countermeasures, with the exception of “death or serious physical injury” brought about through “willful misconduct,” a standard that, among other hurdles, requires the offender to have acted “intentionally to achieve a wrongful purpose.”

“Invoking the PREP Act protects corporations that sell masks even if their masks don’t work,” Massie said on December 26. “Feds are mandating products and shielding the manufacturers even if they harm consumers.”

While evidence shows that the most common masks offer little-to-no protection against COVID (a controversial statement for most of the past two years, which establishment figures have only recently begun to acknowledge), most of the interest in the PREP Act’s ramifications pertains to the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative.

Those shots were developed and released in a tenth of the time vaccine development usually takes and a quarter of the time it took the previous record-holder, the mumps vaccine, leading to concerns as to whether they were adequately tested for safety.

Vaccine defenders note that this one-year development period was not starting from scratch, but rather relied on years of prior research into mRNA technology; and that one of the innovations of Operation Warp Speed was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, eliminating delays unrelated to safety. However, those factors do not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1-3 years on their own — to just three months apiece.

While cases of severe harm reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) after taking COVID shots represent less than one percent of total doses administered in the United States, a 2010 report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) warned that VAERS caught “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events.” Last May, NBC News quoted several mainstream experts acknowledging “gaps” in federal vaccine monitoring.

Further, data indicates that widespread dissemination of the COVID vaccines has failed to end the pandemic. The federal government considers more than 206 million Americans (62% of the eligible) to be “fully vaccinated” (a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature), yet data from Johns Hopkins University reported in October shows that more Americans died of COVID-19 by that point in 2021 (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000). The Moderna vaccine has been available throughout all of 2021; the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots were made available in late February.

In November, The Blaze senior editor Daniel Horowitz called on states to establish their own medical liability rules and VAERS-type systems, and on national Republican candidates and incumbents to disavow campaign contributions from Pfizer, roll back vaccine manufacturers’ liability, and “pledge to support legislation requiring two important conditions on any medical product authorized by government when those same agencies are simultaneously endorsing, funding, or actively promoting the product.”

“1) There must be a direct cause of action for consumers to sue for liability (with no caps) paid for by the government,” he continued. “2) Authorization must be approved by a third-party entity that is devoid of any ties to either the manufacturer or the government agency. That is the only way to restore the Nuremberg principle of informed consent.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here