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A final hearing began today in the investigation into the death of a 26-year-old man who died last year from “catastrophic” blood clots in his brain 13 days after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The family of Jack Hurn hopes the inquest will answer questions about the circumstances of Hurn’s death — including why healthcare providers declined Hurn’s request for a Pfizer vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca shot, which is associated with blood clots in individuals under age 30.
During today’s hearing, Hurn’s girlfriend, Alex Jones, told investigators healthcare officials did not warn her and her boyfriend of the vaccine’s risks.
Jones was with Hurn when he got the first dose of the vaccine on May 29, 2021, at a vaccine center in Dudley, England. She also got the vaccine but was not injured.
Coroners in England and Wales must hold inquests in cases where deaths are sudden, unexplained or could have resulted from medical errors or negligence.
Hurn’s family retained Michael Portman-Hann, an associate solicitor with the Midlands law firm of FBC Manby Bowdler and a specialist in medical malpractice, to represent them in the event they choose to take legal action.
A spokesperson for Portman-Hann’s law firm told the Daily Mail, “The family are looking at a clinical negligence claim but are waiting for the results of the inquest to decide on next steps.”
The final hearing is expected to last three days.
Hurn began experiencing headaches shortly after getting the vaccine, Portman-Hann said. When the headaches became more severe, Hurn was admitted to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, England, where a brain scan revealed a clot.
“Jack’s family found it very difficult to get up-to-date information from hospital staff over the course of a number of days,” Portman-Hann said. “They say there was confusion about whether Jack had actually suffered a stroke while at Redditch and could get no clear answers about his condition.”
Hurn was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, where scans revealed “catastrophic” bleeds in the brain that contributed directly to his death.
Prior to being vaccinated, Hurn and Jones, voiced concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine and requested an alternative, according to Portman-Hann.
Staff at the vaccine center allegedly told them the Pfizer vaccine was not available and assured them the AstraZeneca jab was safe, Portman-Hann said.
European regulators on April 7, 2021, announced they’d found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare” blood clots, but concluded the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks.
The announcement came after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reviewed 62 reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of March 22, 2021. Eighteen of the cases were fatal.
The EMA and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) did not initially recommend any age restrictions on the vaccine, although the MHRA warned of a “slightly higher incidence in the younger adult age groups.”
MHRA regulators advised that the “evolving evidence should be taken into account when considering the use of the vaccine.”
The U.K.’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), also on April 7, 2021, acknowledged reports of an “extremely rare” adverse event of concurrent thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following vaccination with the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The JCVI said, “The available data do suggest there may be a trend for increasing incidence of this adverse event with decreasing age, with a slightly higher incidence reported in the younger adult age groups.”
These concerns led Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s then-deputy chief medical officer, to recommend individuals under age 30 in the U.K. be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab, provided one was available and it did not cause a substantial delay.
The JCVI on May 7, 2021, updated its guidance advising against the AstraZeneca vaccine for individuals under age 40.
Despite these well-publicized warnings and recommendations, staff at the vaccine center dismissed Hurn’s concerns and administered the AstraZeneca vaccine to Hurn and his girlfriend Alex Jones.
Following the April 7, 2021, warnings by U.K. and EU public health officials, the U.K.’s Expert Haematology Panel for the diagnosis and management of vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT) made several recommendations for treating individuals who developed the condition.
The recommendations included urgent use of intravenous immunoglobulin, avoiding platelet transfusions and anticoagulating only with non-heparin-based therapies.
Healthcare officials are required to report probable cases of VITT to the panel and to Public Health England.
“Given the family’s concerns over advice given during the vaccine clinic visit and what happened in the period between Jack being admitted to hospital and his death, we are supporting them to find answers which we’re hopeful an inquest will help provide,” Portman-Hann explained.
Following the Inquest, the coroner may write a report if the evidence suggests further avoidable deaths could occur and, in the coroner’s opinion, preventative action should be taken.
The coroner will send the report to the person or authority that has the power to take the appropriate steps to reduce the risk. A reply will be due within 56 days.
The coroner’s report is published online so members of the public will have access.
An inquest is held in public and is a formal process. Unlike a criminal court case, there is no prosecution and defense. However, findings at the inquest can lead to malpractice lawsuits.
Hurn graduated from Coventry University, where he was an honors student in the field of automotive design. He and Jones had recently purchased a home and he planned to propose to her last summer.
“Jack’s parents, Tracey and Peter, his sister, Abby, Alex and both their families are completely devastated and are still trying to come to terms with what happened,” Portman-Hann said.
The Defender has reported on other deaths related to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including Kim Lockwood, a 34-year-old mother from South Yorkshire, who died in March 2021, of a catastrophic brain bleed nine days after getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Tom Dudley, a 31-year-old father of two who died May 14, 2021, of a vaccine-induced brain hemorrhage after getting the AstraZeneca shot on April 27, 2021.
In August 2021, a coroner concluded Lisa Shaw, 44, died from VITT about three weeks after her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was co-developed by the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
Because the vaccine is manufactured in the U.K., is less expensive and easier to store and transport than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and is approved in the EU and U.K., it is the most widely available.
In the U.K., patients cannot generally choose which COVID-19 vaccine they will receive.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S.
Studies link AstraZeneca and all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. to blood-clotting disorders.