Doctor's death caused by rare reaction to AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

Inquest hears healthy 32-year-old medic died 10 days after receiving the jab

Clinical psychologist Dr Stephen Wright died after a rare reaction to a Covid-19 vaccination. PA
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A doctor who was one of the first people to receive a Covid vaccine jab died as the result of a rare reaction, an inquest heard.

Dr Stephen Wright, 32, of Kent, was “fit and healthy” but died from the “unintended consequences of vaccination”, a coroner concluded.

The NHS clinical psychologist and frontline health worker died 10 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

His widow Charlotte is considering taking legal action against AstraZeneca, which had its Covid vaccine approved in December 2020, a month before Dr Wright was given his dose.

A small group of people, Dr Wright included, had a severe reaction to the vaccination and health authorities are investigating, an inquest at London’s Southwark Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday.

Dr Wright suffered a combination of a brainstem infarction, bleeding on the brain and “vaccine-induced thrombosis”.

Coroner Andrew Harris described a “very unusual and deeply tragic case”.

Outlining the facts, he said: “Dr Wright was a fit and healthy man who had the AstraZeneca vaccine on January 16 2021, awoke with a headache on January 25 and later developed left arm numbness.”

Mr Harris said it is “very important to record as fact that it is the AstraZeneca vaccine – but that is different from blaming AstraZeneca”.

Work is under way to try to understand why severe reactions to the vaccinations can happen, the inquest was told.

Mr Harris said: “My understanding is that this condition is rare."

After the inquest, Mrs Wright said: “It was made clear that Stephen was fit and healthy and that his death was by vaccination of AstraZeneca.

“For us, it allows us to be able to continue our litigation against AstraZeneca.

“This is the written proof.”

In a separate case, the widower of a BBC radio presenter who died as a result of complications from the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, plans to take legal action against the manufacturer. Lisa Shaw, 44, who worked for BBC Radio Newcastle, died three weeks after receiving her first shot in May 2021.

Dr Mark Howard, a consultant pathologist and medical examiner at King’s College Hospital, said scientists and medical experts were not aware of the vaccine's possible deadly side effects because Dr Wright’s case happened so early in the vaccine's distribution.

He said: “Stephen was a very fit, young and healthy man in January 2021.

“It is a truly tragic and very rare complication of a well-meant vaccination.

“We had no knowledge that this was a potential side effect at this time.

“It’s not fully understood why this happens. It’s an idiosyncratic reaction.

“The circumstances arise in a very small number of people.

“There was no way of knowing that Stephen would have this consequence. It was a rare and unintended consequence.”

An AstraZeneca spokesman said: “We are very saddened by Stephen Wright’s death and extend our deepest sympathies to his family for their loss.

“Patient safety is our highest priority and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines.

“From the body of evidence in clinical trials and real-world data, Vaxzevria [the brand name for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine] has continuously been shown to have an acceptable safety profile and regulators around the world consistently state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects.

“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority granted conditional marketing approval for Vaxzevria for the UK based on the safety profile and efficacy of the vaccine.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “More than 144 million Covid vaccines have been given in England, which has helped the country to live with Covid and saved thousands of lives.

“All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the MHRA’s strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.

“The vaccine damage payments scheme provides financial support to help ease the burden on individuals who have, in extremely rare circumstances, been severely disabled or died due to receiving a government-recommended vaccine.”

Updated: April 20, 2023, 8:41 AM