Three years on from the first covid vaccine death

Why did MHRA take no action?

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Published on 26th January, the anniversary of the death of Dr Stephen Wright

3 years ago today, Dr Stephen Wright died from vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia, caused by the AstraZeneca covid vaccine he received on 16th January 2021.

Like many others he was assured it was Safe and Effective and that he should take it to protect others.

His family mentioned the vaccine could be the cause when he was hospitalised and a Yellow Card was completed in early February 2021. Charlotte and his family along with other vaccine injured and bereaved people have been fighting for justice via reform of the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme but have faced little option than to try and fight through litigation. You can support their campaign here at

MHRA took zero action on this 1st known death!

In Austria, the 1st suspected death resulted in immediate suspension on 7th March 2021; MHRA’s response was to issue a statement to reassure people of its safety instead It has not been confirmed that the report of a blood clot was caused by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine. People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so”. By this stage at least 4 suspected deaths had occurred in the UK.

Several other European countries followed suit by suspending the vaccine, MHRAs response was again to reassure people of safety rather than take action The benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 far outweigh the risks. People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

As deaths continued to occur through March into April JCVI made a recommendation for under-30s in the UK to be “offered” Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead.

MHRA released a statement on the same day which contradicted or at least confused the advice “The MHRA is not recommending age restrictions in COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca vaccine use”.

On 7th May 2021 JCVI made a further announcement that under 40s should be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. MHRA sought to reassure patients instead with their announcement that the benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca against COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, continue to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people”.

Despite over 1,400 reported deaths, suspension across Europe and the JCVI advice to restrict age, the AstraZeneca covid vaccine remains approved for over 18s to this day.

Why didn’t MHRA take the opportunity to learn from Stephen Wright’s death, as other regulators did? How many of the 1,400 lives could have been saved by prompt action by MHRA?

MHRAs failures are nothing new, victims of various medical scandals have been fighting for compensation for decades e.g. pelvic mesh, Valproate, Primodos, Debendox and Pandemrix. 

The Cumberlege Report outlined systemic failure by MHRA in July 2020, shortly before the covid vaccine approval commenced. Instead of increasing robustness processes were diluted. 

June Raine declared that MHRA has turned from Watchdog to Enabler; commercial interests are clearly being prioritised over patient safety.

Is it now time for MHRA to be reformed as called for by the petition linked below?

Reform the MHRA and turn it into a fully transparent, patient first regulator

Thank you to guest author: Alex Hicks @hicksyalex

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