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The U.K. family of a 27-year-old engineer who died from catastrophic brain bleeds after receiving AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is eyeing legal action, pending an upcoming preliminary review of their son’s case.
Jack Last, who was vaccinated March 30, 2021, died three weeks after receiving the AstraZeneca jab.
A CT scan on April 10, 2021, revealed Last had developed a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), which occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses and prevents blood from draining out of the brain.
CVST causes blood cells to break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage.
Last died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, U.K., on April 20, 2021 — 11 days after he sought medical treatment for severe headaches.
His family retained legal counsel after raising concerns about the circumstances leading to Jack’s death, the East Anglian Daily Times reported.
In a statement to the media, Michael Portman-Hann, an attorney with FBC Manby Bowdler’s clinical negligence team, said:
“Concerns about the risk of blood clots in under-30s who had the Astra Zeneca vaccine were already being aired in health circles, and just a week after Jack had his vaccine, it was withdrawn from use in this age group. …
“Due to the family’s concerns about Jack’s treatment after the vaccine, we are supporting them to find some answers.”
According to his family, Last was an avid skier who also enjoyed walking, hiking and camping. He was a licensed private pilot in the U.K. and U.S.
A pre-inquest review will be held on August 11, after which a full inquest will be scheduled.
An inquest is a formal investigation conducted by a coroner in order to determine how someone died. The purpose of an inquest is limited to establishing the identity of the deceased individual as well as where, when and how they died.
AstraZeneca, other COVID vaccines known to cause blood clots
European regulators on April 7, 2021, announced they had found a “possible link” between AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine and “very rare” blood clots, but concluded the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not recommend restricting use of the vaccine based on age, gender or other risk factors at the time, but recommended blood clotting after vaccination be listed as a possible side effect, according to a statement issued by the agency’s safety committee.
The EMA’s recommendations followed the agency’s review of 62 cases of CVST and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of March 22, 2021. Eighteen of the cases had resulted in death at the time of the review.
The U.K.’s vaccine regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), issued a press release the same day confirming a link between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and blood clots is strong, but said more research was needed.
The EMA and 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) acknowledged in a statement also on April 7, 2021, there have been reports of an “extremely rare adverse event of concurrent thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca.”
The JCVI said available data suggests “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.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S.. However, it is similar to the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine as both use an adenovirus vector technology.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May put strict limits on the use of J&J’s vaccine, citing the risk of a blood-clotting condition the agency described as “rare and potentially life-threatening.”
However, the FDA has not limited the use of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines despite reports of blood clotting disorders associated with both brands.
Last’s story not unique
Investigators during a week-long inquest were told that a general practitioner told Hurn the risk of experiencing a blood clot in the brain for his age group was one in 250,000 when it was — according to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) — estimated to be 1 in 50,000.
Hurn and his girlfriend, Alex, asked staff at the Dudley’s Revival Fires vaccine clinic about receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine instead of AstraZeneca — as they were aware of concerns around the use of AstraZeneca in younger people.
“Alex and Jack were reassured by the staff at the centre that the vaccine was safe, and with no Pfizer doses available that day, they felt encouraged by vaccine staff to go ahead with what was on offer,” said Portman-Hann, who also represented Hurn’s family.
Hurn became unwell eight days after the jab and died in Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital on June 11, 2021, despite undergoing emergency surgery for the bleeding in his brain.
NHS guidance at the time stated patients under 40 should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, although they could decide on “an informed choice” to receive it.
Birmingham area coroner Emma Brown said in a recording of the verdict it was agreed “that Jack was told the risk was one in 250,000,” and “there can be no doubt that he took that on board.”
Brown said people could make an informed choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine but determined Hurn “was not given all of the information to make an informed choice.”
“In particular the risk of complications for his age group was understated,” she added.
Prior to the inquest, Portman-Hann said the family hoped an inquest would help answer some of the questions they had around Hurn’s death.
The Defender reported earlier this year on the deaths of two U.K. residents who also developed blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccine, and on reports of blood-clotting disorders among Australian, German and Brazilian residents following the shots.