A “fit and healthy” doctor died from the “unintended consequences of vaccination” after a rare reaction to the AstraZeneca Covid jab, a coroner has concluded.
As an NHS clinical psychologist and frontline health worker, Dr Stephen Wright, 32, of Sevenoaks, Kent, was among the earliest groups of people to be given the vaccine during the pandemic.
He died 10 days after the jab.
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, have had a severe reaction to the jab and health authorities are investigating, an inquest at London’s Southwark Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday.
He was taken to Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington and moved to King’s College Hospital as his condition rapidly worsened but the nature of the bleed meant he was unfit for surgery.
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”.
He added: “He was transferred to King’s College Hospital at 6.39am but, due to the extent of the bleed and very low platelets, was unfit for surgery…”
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.
“This is the written proof.”
Work is under way to try to understand why severe reactions to the jabs can happen, the inquest was told.
Mr Harris said: “My understanding is that this condition is rare.
“Causes are being examined by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).
“It seems to me that there is not an action one can take at the moment.
Medical experts told the court nothing could be done to save Dr Wright as his condition deteriorated.
Consultant neurosurgeon Francesco Vergani said platelets provide the body’s first response to try and stop bleeding and are important for clotting.
He said: “There was nothing that could have been done to have a successful operation.
“When you have someone with critically low platelets who is bleeding in the brain, the surgery is a disaster.”
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 its rollout.
“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.
“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.
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.”