AstraZeneca vaccine probably caused blood clots that killed Wigan mum, inquest told

Michelle BarlowMichelle Barlow
Michelle Barlow
A pathologist has told an inquest that the AstraZeneca vaccine probably led to blood clots that killed a Wigan woman who had taken the jab.

Mother-of-two Michelle Barlow, 51, from Orrell, went to a mass vaccination centre at Robin Park and was given the AstraZeneca jab on March 7.

A civil servant for 34 years with the Department for Work and Pensions, Mrs Barlow, originally from Portsmouth, slowly began to suffer “side effects” of flu-like symptoms over the next couple of weeks, the inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard.

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On March 19 she first went to Wigan Infirmary but her husband said she felt “fobbed off” and was discharged.

Ian Barlow with a picture of his beloved wifeIan Barlow with a picture of his beloved wife
Ian Barlow with a picture of his beloved wife

The next day she went to the A&E department of the hospital and was admitted, with medics first suspecting a gastroenteritis infection.

Her husband Ian 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.

He said: “I was told by Michelle they could not do anything for her. Then two doctors came in and explained.

“I said, ‘You have got to save her!'”

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Mrs Barlow, described by her husband as “a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother”, died the next day.

Pathologist Dr Naveen Sharma, who carried out the post-mortem examination, gave the cause of death as multiple organ failure as a consequence of pulmonary embolism.

But he said the cause of death was “incomplete”.

Dr Sharma said he found “extensive and well established” blood clots in Mrs Barlow’s abdomen and lungs.

He added: “There’s no denying a small number of people with the AstraZeneca vaccine have gone on to develop blood clots.

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“The vaccine, in my opinion, considering all the blood results and other findings, on a balance of probabilities, more than minimally led to the blood clots that sadly led to Mrs Barlow’s death.”

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.

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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.

Dr Peter Kreppel, Mrs Barlow’s GP who made her referral to the hospital, said he still would 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, the consultant at Wigan Infirmary, said Mrs Barlow was suffering headaches, body aches and diarrhoea and initial diagnosis was medics suspected a gastro infection and viral infection as Mrs Barlow had low blood platelet counts.

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After a CT scan showed clots on her lungs, the balance tilted towards a possible reaction to the vaccine, he said.

Dr Ahmed said the condition, vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), was not recognised at the time of her death.

He added: “At the time we were treating Mrs Barlow, this condition was not recognised as such in the medical community neither by the MHRA or the EMA (European Medicines Agency).”

Dr Ahmed said if the same situation arose now, he would prescribe haemoglobin, blood thinners and CT scans sooner for the patient.

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He agreed this may have given her a “better chance” but it was a “difficult call”.

Dr Ahmed added: “I think there’s too many variables here, depending on the individual patient’s response. I would not be confident in saying a clear yes or no.”

Surgeon Dr Marius Paraoan told the hearing that once he looked at the CT scan on Mrs Barlow he concluded the blood clots were not treatable with surgery and “not compatible with survival”.

Timothy Brennand, senior coroner for Greater Manchester West, said he will give his conclusions at the inquest on Friday morning.

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