Michelle Barlow began suffering headaches and nausea about a week after receiving her first dose of the jab in March. The 51-year-old woman was admitted to hospital but died days later with her family by her side. Mrs Barlow’s inquest yesterday heard she had suffered blood clots likely to have been caused by the vaccine.
Timothy Brennand, senior coroner for Manchester West, heard the condition is a “very rare” side-effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Manchester Evening News reports.
Dr Naveen Sharma, pathologist at Wigan Infirmary, gave a cause of death as “multi-organ failure as a consequence of pulmonary embolism”. He said there was likely a “causative link” between the blood clot in Mrs Barlow’s lungs and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mr Barlow’s husband, Ian, said his partner experienced “flu-like symptoms” after the jab, and later developed headaches, diarrhoea and nausea.
By March 19, Mrs Barlow’s symptoms had become “overwhelming” so she sought help at Wigan Infirmary.
Doctors carried out tests, which showed she had a “very low” blood platelet count.
The civil servant, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, was discharged and told to return for a check-up the following week.
However, the gran’s condition failed to improve and she was readmitted to hospital the next day.
Doctors suspected she had a gastroenteritis infection, the inquest heard.
Mr Barlow said the family were unable to be with her at the hospital due to Covid restrictions and on March 22 he got a phone call from a nurse telling him to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” he said. “When I got that phone call, I expected to go and see my wife and she would survive.”
When he arrived, Mr Barlow said his wife told him doctors ‘could not do anything for her’.
“The doctors came in and explained,” said Mr Barlow. “I just said to them ‘you have to save her’.”
Mrs Barlow died the following day.
Speaking at Bolton Coroner’s Court, Dr Sharma said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had this month produced guidance suggesting a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the “very rare” side effect of blood clots.
He said 425 cases of major blood clots had been identified in people who had taken the AstraZeneca vaccine and said this represented “rare but very clearly recognised potential complications”.
Of the 425 cases, 215 in women and 206 in men, 154 cases related to blood clots in the head and 271 in other parts of the body.
Of the 425 cases, the ages ranged from 18 to 93, with 101 cases in the 50 to 59 age range, 19 of which were among the 73 fatal cases in total.
He said currently 24.8 million people had been given the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 24.1 million people had been double-jabbed with the same medicine.
Paying tribute to his wife, Mr Barlow said: “She was a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother.
“She was nothing short of perfect.
“Michelle was and is to me the most loving, caring, patient and selfless person anyone could ever meet.
“She was fit and healthy. There was nothing wrong with her.”
Dr Peter Kreppel, a GP at Mesnes View Surgery in Wigan, said Mrs Barlow was put forward for her first dose of the vaccine early due to an error in her records, which stated she was a carer for her husband.
Mr Barlow told the inquest that when his wife contacted the practice to inform them it was a mistake, she was told: “Just have the vaccine.”
Had Mrs Barlow not been in that category, she would not have been invited to have the vaccine at that stage, Dr Kreppel said.
However, he said he would still have recommended her taking the vaccine as the risk of thrombosis was 100 times greater without the vaccine than when having taken it.
Dr Mian Ahmed, a consultant physician at Wigan Infirmary, told the hearing it was not until a CT scan on Mrs Barlow’s lungs revealed a blood clot that doctors began to suspect a possible reaction to the vaccine, rather than gastroenteritis.
He said the condition – vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) – was not recognised at the time of her death.
Dr Ahmed said if the same situation arose now, he would prescribe haemoglobin, blood thinners and CT scans sooner for the patient.
He agreed this may have given her a “better chance” but it was a “difficult call”.
Marius Paraoan, a surgeon at the hospital, said that after viewing the CT scan, he concluded that Mrs Barlow’s condition was ‘unsurvivable’.
As well as her husband, Mrs Barlow’s sons, Matthew and Mark, were also present at the hearing alongside other relatives.
Senior coroner Timothy Brennand said he will give his conclusions at the inquest today.