AstraZeneca admits its Covid vaccine can cause rare side effect in court documents for first time

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.

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.

Kate Scott, Mr Scott’s wife, told the Telegraph: “The medical world has acknowledged for a long time that VITT was caused by the vaccine. It’s only AstraZeneca who have questioned whether Jamie’s condition was caused by the jab.

“It’s taken three years for this admission to come. It’s progress, but we would like to see more from them and the Government. It’s time for things to move more quickly.

“I hope their admission means we will be able to sort this out sooner rather than later. We need an apology, fair compensation for our family and other families who have been affected. We have the truth on our side, and we are not going to give up.”

‘Patient safety is our highest priority’

Sarah Moore, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, who is bringing the legal claims, said: “It has taken AstraZeneca a year to formally admit that their vaccine can cause the devastating blood clots, when this fact has been widely accepted by the clinical community since the end of 2021.

“In that context, regrettably it seems that AZ, the Government and their lawyers are more keen to play strategic games and run up legal fees than to engage seriously with the devastating impact that their AZ vaccine has had upon our clients’ lives.”

In a statement AstraZeneca said: “Our sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones or reported health problems. Patient safety is our highest priority, and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines.

“From the body of evidence in clinical trials and real-world data, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine 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.”

The company is pointing out that product information relating to the vaccine was updated in April 2021, with the approval of the UK regulator, to include “the possibility that the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is capable, in very rare cases, of being a trigger for” TTS. 

The company does not recognise claims it has performed an about-turn in acknowledging that the vaccine can cause TTS in court documents.

Independent studies show the AstraZeneca vaccine was incredibly effective in tackling the pandemic, saving more than six million lives globally in the first year of the rollout. 

The World Health Organisation has said the vaccine was “safe and effective for all individuals aged 18 and above” and the adverse effect that has prompted the legal action was “very rare”.

The vaccine – heralded at its launch by Boris Johnson as a “triumph for British science” – is no longer used in the UK.

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