The death of award-winning BBC radio presenter Lisa Shaw was caused by complications as a result of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, a coroner in Newcastle has concluded.
Shaw died in May, just over three weeks after she had her first dose of the jab, an inquest in Newcastle heard on Thursday.
The 44-year-old – who was referred to by her married name, Lisa Eve, during the hearing – started to complain of a headache a few days after her vaccination and eventually went to A&E in Durham, where she was diagnosed with a blood clot and was transferred for specialist treatment at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
The inquest heard that, despite treatments including cutting away part of her skull to relieve pressure, nothing further could be done and Shaw died on 21 May.
At the end of a hearing which lasted less than an hour, Newcastle senior coroner Karen Dilks gave a narrative conclusion, which said: “Lisa died due to complications of an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.”
Fit and healthy
Earlier, pathologist Tuomo Polvikoski told the coroner that Shaw, who was a well-known presenter for BBC Newcastle, was fit and healthy before receiving the vaccination.
Asked about the underlying cause of the fatal clotting on her brain, Dr Polvikoski said the clinical evidence “strongly supports the idea that it was, indeed, vaccine-induced”.
The pathologist added: “Based on available clinical information, it seems to be the most likely explanation.”
Shaw’s husband, Gareth Eve, attended the inquest with other members of the family.
They issued a statement, which said: “This is another difficult day in what has been a devastating time for us.
“The death of our beloved Lisa has left a terrible void in our family and in our lives.
“She truly was the most wonderful wife, mum, daughter, sister and friend.
“We have said all we want to say in public at this time and ask to be left alone to grieve and rebuild our lives in private. Thank you.”
The coroner said: “On 29 April 2021, she had a first doze of the AstraZeneca vaccine and, following that, she developed a vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia – a rare and aggressive complication associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was the underlying cause of her death.”
The inquest heard that Shaw – a mother-of-one from Consett, Co Durham – went to the University Hospital of North Durham on 13 May after complaining of a severe headache, including shooting pains across her forehead and behind her eyes.
The coroner said Shaw had previously complained about pain all over her head.
After a CT scan revealed a venous sinus thrombosis, a decision was taken to transfer her to the Royal Victoria, the hearing was told.
Dr Christopher Johnson, a consultant in anaesthetics and intensive care at the hospital, told the inquest at Newcastle Coroner’s Court, that Shaw was initially treated with anti-coagulants but an operation was undertaken to relieve the pressure on her brain after bleeding was detected.
But Dr Johnson said the surgery could not help with the underlying cause of the haemorrhage and the risks were too great to try to remove the clot “manually”.
The consultant said Shaw’s treatment was determined in consultation with a national panel of experts which convened daily.
“This was one of the first cases of this kind of vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis I had seen and had been seen nationally,” he said.
Asked whether his team were of the view that the “underlying cause of the events that tragically affected Lisa was complications of the AstraZeneca vaccine”, Dr Johnson said: “We were, yes.”
Asked by the coroner if the team at the Royal Victoria had reviewed their care of Shaw, the consultant said the treatments given and the sequences of treatments was now nationally recognised practice.
He added: “I do not think there was anything anyone could have done differently. If we had the same presentation tomorrow, we would do the same.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Shaw and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.
“As the UK’s independent medicines regulator, the MHRA, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have said, for the vast majority of people, the benefits of preventing serious illness and death outweigh any risks and the vaccines have saved over 100,000 lives.
“People will be offered a vaccine that is most suitable for them. For example, everyone under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, as advised by the JCVI.
“Those who have already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination.”