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AstraZeneca admits its Covid-19 vaccine could cause blood clot

AstraZeneca has admitted for the first time in court documents that its Covid vaccine can cause a rare side effect, in an apparent about-turn that could pave the way for a multi-million dollar legal payout.

AstraZeneca is contesting the claims but has accepted, in a legal document submitted to the High Court in February, that its Covid vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause TTS” [Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, a very rare syndrome that occurs when a person has blood clots (thrombosis) together with a low platelet count].

The pharmaceutical giant is being sued in UK in a class action over claims that its vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, caused death and serious injury in dozens of cases.

Lawyers argue the vaccine produced a side effect which has had a devastating effect on a small number of families.

The first case was lodged last year by Jamie Scott, a father of two, who was left with a permanent brain injury after developing a blood clot and a bleed on the brain that has prevented him from working after he received the vaccine in April 2021. The hospital called his wife three times to tell her that her husband was going to die.

Fifty-one cases have been lodged in the High Court, with victims and grieving relatives seeking damages estimated to be worth up to £100 million.

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AstraZeneca’s admission – made in a legal defence to Mr Scott’s High Court claim – follows intense legal wrangling. It could lead to payouts if the drug firm accepts that the vaccine was the cause of serious illness and death in specific legal cases.

The Government has pledged to underwrite AstraZeneca’s legal bills.

In a letter of response sent in May 2023, AstraZeneca told lawyers for Mr Scott that “we do not accept that TTS is caused by the vaccine at a generic level”.

But in the legal document submitted to the High Court in February, AstraZeneca said: “It is admitted that the AZ vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause TTS. The causal mechanism is not known.

“Further, TTS can also occur in the absence of the AZ vaccine (or any vaccine). Causation in any individual case will be a matter for expert evidence.”

Lawyers argue that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is “defective” and that its efficacy has been “vastly overstated” – claims AstraZeneca strongly denies.

Scientists first identified a link between the vaccine and a new illness called vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) as early as March 2021, shortly after the Covid-19 vaccine rollout began.

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Lawyers for the claimants argue that VITT is a subset of TTS, although AstraZeneca does not appear to recognise the term.

The Government has indemnified AstraZeneca against any legal action but has so far refused to intervene.

With reports from The Telegraph

Bridget Benson
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