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Scientists have told the Daily Express urgent research is needed to investigate adverse vaccine reactions – and warned that the pandemic had so politicised the issue researchers and institutions are reluctant to ask questions. The Express has spoken with immunologists and virologists as part of our Justice for Jab Victims campaign, highlighting the forgotten victims left bereaved or seriously ill following a vaccine.
Dr William Murphy, an immunologist at the University of California, says more experiments and data are needed to help those suffering from side-effects.
The Express has revealed concerns that the 44-year-old Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) is ‘unfit for purpose’. A fraction of 4,000 claims have been settled by assessors on behalf of the Department of Health.
Claimants and experts claim the “outdated legislation” is preventing those injured by vaccines, including the Covid jab, from being awarded compensation.
Dr Murphy told the Express scientists should be examining adverse reactions to vaccines.
“They will give us insights on how the immune system is working not only as a preventative [measure] but because we know there is a fast tapering off of immunity,” he said.
“We need to figure out how we make [future vaccinations] better. There seems to be, within the scientific community, a reluctance to really question all the different pathways going on either with the vaccine or with the infection itself.”
Today we can reveal more details on how the criteria used by the VDPS to make its decisions could be working against some applicants. As of February 23, 849 Covid-19 vaccine claims have been rejected by the VDPS, 800 of them on the grounds of causation.
Caroline Pover, 51, was shocked that her VDPS rejection was rejected despite her hospital notes referencing a “post-Covid vaccine reaction”.
Nine hours after having a AstraZeneca vaccine on March 3, 2021, she experienced convulsions, shivering, breathing difficulties and low blood pressure.
“It was when I became aware that my brain wasn’t functioning that I told my partner Matthew to get help, I was terrified,” Caroline says.
Caroline was hospitalised and scored a “moderate” score on the Glasgow Coma Scale of conscious level, which measures the severity of a brain injury.
After undergoing tests, she was discharged the next morning.
Days later, Caroline struggled with exhaustion, breathing difficulties, a racing heart and migraines. She suffered what she believed to be stroke-like symptoms several days after her vaccination. She was rushed to hospital but was not diagnosed with a stroke.
Like many VDPS applicants, Caroline’s health picture is complex.
The author and entrepreneur had a stroke, aged 19, followed by three more in her thirties. She has since had a hole in her heart closed, dramatically reducing her risk of future strokes.
Caroline’s VDPS rejection report attributes her long-term symptoms, including headaches, physical and mental fatigue, to strokes, an unidentified blood clotting disorder and previous psychological trauma.
To determine outcomes, medical assessors use guidance from Government vaccination bible The Green Book and The Brighton Collaboration, a global vaccine safety taskforce who develop case definitions for vaccine adverse events.
They also reference the UK Yellow Card Scheme, operated by the The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, in which Britons can self-report their symptoms, although it is not medically corroborated.
VDPS applications have stated “inadequate evidence” linking Covid-19 vaccines to chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, and poor mental health including anxiety and depression, used on some applications they are not grounds for causation “on the balance of probability”.
Dr Murphy says there are no existing models for chronic fatigue syndrome that can measure definite outcomes. “When you have a disease like cancer, you see it and measure it – it’s a real and visible thing,” said.
“When you’re dealing with reported symptoms such as fatigue, pain, or even more subjective [criteria], it becomes very difficult to say something is ‘definite due to this’ because we don’t even understand the mechanisms.”
In his 2021 study, he hypothesised that the body’s immune response to the Covid-19 spike protein, located on the virus’s surface, might explain long Covid symptoms and rare Covid vaccine side effects.
Researchers have found “very rare” cases of heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) with Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccinations. The AstraZeneca jab has been linked with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.
It is important to note that tens of millions of people have been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccination in the UK and serious side effects are relatively rare.
Dr Tom Merritt, a virologist who specialises in gene therapy, was part of the Oxford University team that developed and mass produced the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He insists vaccines “absolutely work” and his team followed stringent processes.
The Oxford team, led by Dame Sarah Gilbert and Dr Catherine Green, previously conducted successful clinical trials for a vaccine for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) and used a rapid technology already in use to develop a Covid-19 vaccine at speed.
Yet, Dr Merritt admits there are people who are “collateral damage to the bigger scheme”.
He told the Express: “There will be people whose bodies reacted horribly to this vaccine. Some have tragically died, a number have had their lives changed forever.
“They believed in vaccines before this and now they don’t; they’re worried about them. That to me is just as bad. In terms of the greater good, they are unfortunate. Does that mean we should ignore them afterwards? No.”
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which leaves one third of survivors seriously disabled, highlights the complexities surrounding the proof of vaccine injuries.
Professor Michael Lunn, clinical lead in neuroimmunology at the University of College London, and his team identified a “small but significant” rise in GBS cases following a AstraZeneca vaccine by pinpointing an “unusual spike” in cases between March and April 2021 compared with historical rates for the same months.
The same team previously found no such measurable link in 2020.
Professor Lunn says there are approximately between 1,200 and 1,500 cases of GBS in a typical year. “There is no way to prove that any one case is ‘caused’ by a vaccine,” he says.
He added: “Getting patients into trials is difficult in rare diseases which present as emergencies in the UK – where medical science funding is increasingly limited, where patients have become highly suspicious of anything driven by social media and conspiracy theories, and where bureaucratic red tape around clinical investigational products and trials has become so restrictive as to prevent almost any advance.”
Dr Merritt says epigenetics, the study of how the environment and behaviour affect your genes, could yet offer answers. He uses the examples of identical twins where one of them suffers a vaccine adverse reaction but the other doesn’t.
“That’s because of something else that’s underlying that may have never manifested itself before,” he explains. “This is where we get to individualised medicines. And that’s what we could start to see with these vaccines.”
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