Covid vaccine: Woman who died was ‘wrongly diagnosed’

A woman who died from “unrecognised” complications after having a Covid-19 vaccine was wrongly diagnosed with gastroenteritis, a coroner has said.

An inquest heard Michelle Barlow developed blood clots and died 16 days after having the AstraZeneca jab.

Senior coroner Timothy Brennand said the 51-year-old, from Orrell, Wigan, may have received “sub-optimal care”.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals Trust said her treatment was “in line with appropriate guidance”.

The inquest heard mother-of-two Mrs Barlow first went to Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan with flu-like “side effects” on 19 March, 12 days after getting a vaccine at a mass vaccination centre at Robin Park, Wigan.

Her husband Ian told Bolton Coroner’s Court she felt “fobbed off” and was discharged, but returned the next day and was admitted, doctors suspecting gastroenteritis.

Three days later, Mr Barlow got a phone call from a nurse telling him to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

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

“I said, ‘you have got to save her’.”

‘Confirmation bias’

Hospital consultant Dr Mian Ahmed told the hearing if the same situation now arose, he would prescribe haemoglobin, blood thinners and CT scans sooner to the patient.

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

Her multiple organ failure caused by the blood clots was as a result of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a condition not recognised at the time of her death, the inquest heard.

Pathologist Dr Naveen Sharma told the inquest that guidance about a link between the AstraZeneca jab and the “very rare” side effect had only been recently published and, of the 24.8 million people who had had at least a single dose, only 425 cases of major blood clots had been identified.

Giving his conclusion, Mr Brennand said he could not say whether Mrs Barlow would have lived if doctors had recognised sooner that she was having a bad reaction to the vaccine.

“The deceased died as a consequence of the unrecognised, rare complications of a recently administered elective and necessary Covid-19 vaccination,” the coroner added.

However, he said there may have been some “sub-optimal care” and “confirmation bias” among medics in persisting with their initial wrong diagnosis.

‘Check it out’

Outside court Ian Barlow called for a judicial review into the vaccine rollout and said he felt “relief” that the vaccine’s role in his wife’s death had been recognised.

He said the family felt stonewalled by public health officials when he raised his concerns.

He said he was “happy and sad” because though she was not here, his wife “got the answers to what we wanted”.

“The Covid vaccine victims are forgotten heroes alongside the Covid victims, because lessons have been learned,” he said.

“I’ve had a close friend die of Covid and my wife has died from the vaccine.

“I’m not saying don’t get the vax. I’m saying check it out first, if it’s right for you.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital trust said the coroner’s conclusion “confirmed the findings of our internal investigation”.

She said: “We would like to give assurance that the treatment Mrs Barlow received whilst in our care was in line with appropriate guidance.”

She added that the trust “would again like to offer our sincere condolences” to Mrs Barlow’s family.

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