Pensioner 'lost control' of car and died after Covid vaccine - another choked to death inquests hear
TWO pensioners died within hours of receiving their coronavirus vaccinations, separate inquests have heard.
One choked on his lunch shortly after having a first dose, just two days after recovering from coronavirus, but an assistant coroner gave no consideration to there being a potential link and recorded an accidental verdict.
The other drove home after a first jab and swerved into another car soon after - the inquest was opened and adjourned to a later date.
Elizabeth Gray, 91, received her first jab on the morning of January 15 at a vaccination centre in Suffolk, but died after a car accident as she drove herself home, Essex Coroners' Court heard.
It is not yet clear what caused her to lose control of the vehicle or if it was anything to do with the vaccine.
Sarah Lee, assistant to the coroner, said: "While driving home, travelling north on the A1124 in Greenstead in the direction of Halstead, Essex, her vehicle turned into the side of a vehicle going in the opposite direction.
"The reason for this loss of control are as yet unknown."
Mrs Gray suffered serious injuries and was transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridgeshire, where she passed away on the January 16.
The court heard Essex Police is not looking to prosecute anyone in connection with the accident.
The cause of death, after a post mortem examination, was given as multiple injuries caused by a road traffic accident.
Her inquest was opened and adjourned to a later date at a hearing on Wednesday. The court heard at a separate earlier unconnected hearing how Peter Smith, 82, from a care home in Colchester was vaccinated against coronavirus just two days after recovering from the virus.
He died within a few hours of receiving the jab, an inquest heard.
Mr Smith tested positive for Covid-19 on December 28 after having symptoms for ten days, the court heard.
He was admitted to Colchester Hospital on January 2 where he developed pneumonia and an acute kidney injury.
However, he recovered after treatment and on January 5 was discharged back into his care home in Colchester, Essex, where he fought off coronavirus, the court heard.
Assistant coroner Tina Harrington (above) said on January 22 Mr Smith had a telephone consultation with his GP when it was agreed he had beaten the virus and was feeling well.
Two days later, on the morning of January 24, he received his first dose of coronavirus vaccine and the court heard that within a few hours he was tragically dead.
Ms Harrington said: "On the morning of the 24th of January he received his first Covid vaccination. At around 1.25pm he was eating his lunch when he began choking.
"The carers smacked his back and he went limp and was placed on the floor where CPR was commenced .
"Paramedics used forceps to remove the food that was lodged in his throat, however, the gentleman, Mr Smith, sadly passed away. Police did not attend but said there were no suspicious circumstances."
Despite the short length of time between the jab and his death, Ms Harrington made no further mention of the vaccination in her consideration of what caused his death.
The inquest did not explore if it could have been connected to the vaccine dose before reaching a conclusion.
The court heard that Mr Smith's daughter and two sons had been in touch with the coroner about the death by email.
She said: "The said 'as a family we are comfortable with the cause of death and there are no issues surrounding his death, care or treatment and we do not wish to attend the inquest.'"
A non-invasive post mortem was carried out which gave the main cause of death as choking on food matter.
Despite recovering from coronavirus, Covid-19 was added as a part two cause of death alongside hypertension Parkinson's disease and vascular disease.
This means Mr Smith is likely to have been included in the published figures for coronavirus deaths in care homes, despite not being killed by the illness.
Ms Harrington recorded an accidental verdict caused by the choking.
We asked the court why the vaccine had not been given any consideration as being a possible contributing factor in Mr Smith's death.
Ms Lee said: "The coroner is an independent judicial office holder and, like any other judge, unable to comment or reply to questions from the press on individual cases or otherwise."
Neither inquest specified which vaccine brand was used in each case.
Millions of people have been given their first coronavirus vaccination in the UK, with few reports of complications or deaths soon afterwards.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Authority (MHRA) is monitoring any adverse health effects or deaths soon after vaccination, but so far believes no deaths have been linked to the vaccine.
According to its latest published update there have been 406 reports of deaths of elderly people following vaccination, but none are believed to have been caused by it.
The report said: "Part of our continuous analysis includes an evaluation of natural death rates over time, to determine if any specific trends or patterns are occurring that might indicate a vaccine safety concern.
"Based on age-stratified all-cause mortality in England and Wales taken from the Office for National Statistics death registrations, several thousand deaths are expected to have occurred, naturally, within 7 days of the many millions of doses of vaccines administered so far, mostly in the elderly.
"The MHRA has received 197 UK reports of suspected ADRs to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in which the patient died shortly after vaccination, 205 reports for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine and 4 where the brand of vaccine was unspecified. "The majority of these reports were in elderly people or people with underlying illness. "Usage of the AstraZeneca has increased rapidly and as such, so has reporting of fatal events with a temporal association with vaccination however, this does not indicate a link between vaccination and the fatalities reported. "Review of individual reports and patterns of reporting does not suggest the vaccine played a role in the death."
Essex News and Investigations contacted the office of Chief Coroner His Honour Judge Thomas Teague QC about his views on inquests concerning patients who died soon after vaccination.
Below are our questions and the responses: Q1. Could I get the view of the chief coroner on whether the possible involvement of the vaccination in the death of a person who dies so shortly after being vaccinated is something that should be looked into more closely as this was not considered as part of the inquest into Mr Smith, but it could be during the inquest into Mrs Gray's death?
"The Chief Coroner is unable to comment on individual cases. Deaths are reported to coroners by medical practitioners in line with the Notification of Death Regulations 2019. The scope of an inquest, the evidence considered and the conclusions of the inquest are a matter for each coroner as an independent judicial office holder."
Q2. Is there any form of expert opinion that could be sought to look at any possible link between vaccination and a sudden death afterwards?
"The evidence considered at inquest is a matter for the individual coroner, as an independent judicial office holder."
Q3. Are coroners being asked to keep a separate record of deaths of people that happen within a short period of vaccination and if not should this be introduced?
"Coroners are not required in law to keep records about the numbers of death reported broken down by possible cause. Their statutory role is to investigate an individual death reported to them and where their duty to investigate is engaged, to answer a limited number of statutory questions about that death."
Q4. Since the vaccination programme is the Chief Coroner aware of any other cases where a person has died within one or two days of their vaccination and, if so could I get details please?
"The Chief Coroner has not been made aware of any inquest conclusion which has established that a death is vaccine-related."
ESSEX NEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS OPINION
These two cases could well be coincidences with the vaccine playing no part in their deaths. Millions of people have received their first doses of the vaccine and only a tiny percentage of people have died or suffered complications.
With so many people of a very elderly age being vaccinated at the same time, many of them are likely to die of unconnected events.
However, at the same time these cases do raise questions and should not instantly be dismissed.
It is possible the vaccine dose did something that caused Mr Smith to be unable to swallow and Mrs Gray to lose control of her car.
The biggest question that stood out in Mr Smith's case was why would you vaccinate someone so elderly against a virus he had only just fought off two days earlier?
He would have already had immunity to the current strain of coronavirus and his body was recovering.
There should have at least been a delay of several weeks before he had his first vaccine dose.
It did not seem right for Assistant coroner Tina Harrington to give none of this any consideration at all before reaching her conclusion it was a standard accidental choking death.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of the inquest into Mrs Gray.
It is also interesting that, as we go through an unprecedented pandemic and mass vaccination programme of a series of very new vaccines, that the Chief Coroner, does not appear to want a more thorough record keeping of deaths that have happened soon after vaccination.
There has been no advice issued to coroners to log any deaths that happened soon after vaccination, or explore them more deeply than otherwise, so there will be no national database of such cases.
Many such inquests will happen independently without any common themes that may occur across the country identified or explored further, and therefore no subsequent review of the deaths can take place.
There is a national yellow card scheme for reporting adverse effects of medicines and vaccines, but these inquests show that not all possible cases will be reported via that system.
If Essex News and Investigations had not covered these inquests there would have been no public record of them having had a vaccine so soon before death.