Covishield vaccine may cause rare side effect, AstraZeneca admits in UK court

Denmark halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns of blood clots.
Photo: IANS/Representative image

AstraZeneca has acknowledged, for the first time since the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine, the potential for a rare side effect. The pharmaceutical giant has sold the vaccine globally under the brand names Covishield and Vaxzevria among others.

In legal filings submitted to the United Kingdom High Court, the pharmaceutical company conceded that its COVID-19 vaccine "can, in very rare cases, cause TTS," referring to Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome. This syndrome can lead to blood clots and a low blood platelet count.

This admission, reported by The Telegraph, may signal the beginning of significant legal ramifications, potentially resulting in a multi-million-pound settlement. AstraZeneca faces class action suits alleging that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has caused serious injuries or fatalities in numerous cases.

The initial lawsuit against the company was filed by Jamie Scott, a father of two, who received the vaccine at the age of 44. Ten days post-vaccination, Scott experienced fatigue, vomiting, and subsequent speech impairment, leading to a hospital visit. Physicians diagnosed him with a suspected case of Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis (VITT), resulting in permanent brain injury. Scott's case is one of 51 filed against AstraZeneca, with claimants and bereaved families seeking damages potentially totaling up to £100 million ($125.36 million).

Previously, AstraZeneca's legal representatives had contested the link between TTS and the vaccine in a letter sent in May of the previous year, stating, "we do not accept that TTS is caused by the vaccine at a generic level."

However, in a document submitted in February of the current year, AstraZeneca acknowledged, "It is admitted that the AZ vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause TTS. The causal mechanism is not known." The document further noted, "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."

Despite these admissions, lawyers representing the victims argue that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is "defective" and that its efficacy has been "vastly overstated." AstraZeneca vehemently denies these allegations.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Jamie Scott's wife expressed relief at the acknowledgment by medical authorities that VITT could be caused by the vaccine. However, she emphasized the need for expedited action from both AstraZeneca and the government, urging for swift resolution, apology, and fair compensation for affected families. She concluded, "We have the truth on our side, and we are not going to give up."

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