Thirty-five people who suffered life-changing reactions to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine are suing the company in what has been described as one of the biggest legal cases of its kind. Another 40 claims are expected to follow.
The claims already amount to around £80 million in damages, and the figure is expected to rise dramatically.
The claimants describe the Vaxzevria vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, as ‘defective’ in claims lodged with the UK’s High Court; they follow two test cases launched last year.
The 35 complainants say they have suffered a rare side effect that was only recently recognised. The reaction—VITT, or Vaccine Induced Immune Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis—causes life-threatening blood clots and is fatal in 20 percent of cases. Around 80 deaths, and hundreds of serious reactions, have been attributed to VITT, according to vaccine safety monitoring systems, but the real total is likely to be far higher.
The UK’s Vaccine Damage Payment scheme pays out £120,000 in compensation that also prevents a claimant to issue further claims. The scheme pays out in only 5 percent of cases. Even then, victims say the amount is far too little to compensate for a destroyed life, and one that needs special care.
Although AstraZeneca is being charged, the UK government will ultimately pay the compensation as it underwrites claims for damage from any vaccine.
The UK was one of the few countries to adopt the AstraZeneca jab, and concerns about its safety were quickly raised across Europe. It has now been delisted from the UK’s vaccine programme.
AstraZeneca has said the claimants are “confused” and “wrong in law”.
According to vaccine adverse events reports prepared by the UK’s MHRA (Medicines and Health products Regulatory Authority), the AstraZeneca vaccine had caused 934,000 ‘adverse reactions’ and 1423 deaths up to the end of last year. Nearly 80 percent of the reactions were classified as ‘serious’.