AstraZeneca is facing legal action alleging that its COVID-19 vaccine, known as Vaxzevria, was “defective.”
The legal challenge was brought by Jamie Scott, a father of two who suffered a blood clot after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine in April 2021, BBC reports. This left him with severe brain injury and unable to keep working.
The action, taken under the Consumer Protection Act, alleges the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca was less safe than individuals were entitled to expect.
In April 2021, the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed a possible link between the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and "extremely rare, unlikely to occur" blood clots.
In June 2022, the World Health Organization concluded that the AstraZeneca vaccine was "safe and effective" for adults 18 and older.
A further claim from about 80 people who say the AstraZeneca vaccine injured them is also due to be launched later this year in the UK.
Many claimants have received one-off fixed tax-free payments of £120,000 ($146,480) under the government's Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS). At least 144 out of 148 VDPS payments had gone to recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A 2022 study estimated that COVID-19 vaccines prevented 19.8 million deaths globally during the first year of vaccinations.
What may cause blood clots?
Jamie Scott's wife, Kate Scott, said her spouse had over 250 rehabilitation sessions to learn to talk and walk again.
"Although he has done very well with them we are at the point now where this new version of Jamie… is the version that will go forward. He has cognition problems…he has aphasia..severe headaches, blindness," she told BBC.
AstraZeneca, the UK-based pharmaceutical company, said that patient safety is the company's "highest priority" and regulators "have clear and stringent standards" to ensure the safety of vaccines.
The company said, "From the body of evidence in clinical trials and real-world data, Vaxzevria [the vaccine against Covid] 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."
According to the MHRA, approximately four people in a million who received the shot develop blood clots, with slightly higher incidence reported in younger adult age groups.
Nevertheless, the agency emphasized the benefits of the vaccine continued to outweigh the risks for most people.
A 2021 study suggested that the adenovirus in the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is used to deliver instructions to the cells, can bind with platelet factor 4, a protein found in the blood. The authors wrote that in extremely rare cases, this may cause a chain reaction in the immune system, resulting in blood clots.
However, research has shown that the risk of developing blood clots due to COVID-19 is much higher than after receiving the vaccine.
For every 10 million people infected with COVID-19, there are 12,614 extra cases of blood clots in the veins and 20 cases of rare blood clots in the brain. In comparison, there are 66 extra cases of blood clots in the veins and seven extra cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain for every 10 million AstraZeneca recipients.
- UK Government. MHRA issues new advice, concluding a possible link between COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and extremely rare, unlikely to occur blood clots.
- British Heart Foundation. AstraZeneca Covid vaccine: safety and side effects.
- Science Advances. ChAdOx1 interacts with CAR and PF4 with implications for thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome.
- The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Global impact of the first year of COVID-19 vaccination: a mathematical modelling study.
- The British Medical Journal. Risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolism after covid-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 positive testing: self-controlled case series study.