A rock singer suffered a ‘catastrophic brain injury’ in a rare and aggressive complication brought on by the AstraZeneca Covid vaccination, an inquest concluded.
The 48-year-old who called himself Zion fell ill with an agonising headache on May 13 last year, eight days after having his first jab at Penrith Auction Mart in Cumbria.
Tragically, he later died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on May 19.
The inquest held at Newcastle Coroner’s Court yesterday heard how his condition severely deteriorated in the days after his headache symptoms emerged.
A paramedic who was first called to Zion’s home in Alston, Cumbria, on May 15, 2021, gave evidence at the inquest and said Zion was ‘alert and sat up’ when she arrived.
She told the hearing she advised Zion to go to hospital for further checks, but he said he did not want to go for fear of catching Covid.
The paramedic added that she did not receive official guidance regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine and its rare potential risks until around July.
The inquest also heard from Vikki Spit, Zion’s fiancé and partner of 21 years, who said the paramedic was ‘adamant’ the migraine was nothing to do with the vaccine and that they both ‘believed her.’
She added: ‘He was prepared to go to hospital if the advice was to do so.’
The paramedic denied Ms Spit’s claim.
A clinical review of the North East Ambulance Service ‘s handling of the initial paramedic call out was later carried out and concluded the paramedic did a ‘thorough assessment’ and that there were ‘no concerns’.
Two days later, on May 17, another paramedic arrived at Zion’s home and described him as ‘confused and vacant’. Zion then had a small seizure and he was immediately taken to Carlisle Hospital in an ambulance.
He was later referred to the RVI and blue-lighted to the hospital with the intention of him being operated on immediately.
Damian Holliman, the neurosurgeon who operated on Zion, said that when he arrived, both of his pupils were unresponsive to light. By this point Zion had bleeding on the brain, causing it to swell, and he was then operated on.
Mr Holliman said that he was ‘fully aware’ Zion’s blood clot ‘was the result of his recent vaccination’.
The inquest heard Zion had a ‘limited medical history’ and had suffered a ‘rare and aggressive complication’.
When Mr Holliman was asked whether he believed the AstraZeneca vaccine was the direct result of the complications Zion suffered, he replied: ‘I don’t have any other reason to think it was anything else’ and that his thrombosis was ‘related somehow to the vaccination’.
Two other consultants at the RVI also gave evidence at the hearing, and agreed with Mr Holliman’s view that Zion had suffered rare complication from the vaccine.
After Zion’s death, his fiancée Ms Spit, 39, said she had spent just one night apart from him in 21 years and her life had been ‘smashed into a million pieces’.
Born in Dorking, Surrey, Zion was given his unique name by his ‘hippy’ parents and grew up to become a musician.
He met Ms Spit at a London rock club in the 1990s and toured for many years as glam punk band Spit Like This before settling down to a peaceful rural life in Alston.
‘We were meant to get married in April but it didn’t happen because of Covid. I regret that even more now,’ Ms Spit said last year.
She added: ‘We knew that younger people weren’t getting the AztraZeneca vaccine but he wasn’t in that age group so we didn’t think anything of it. It was all good, he’d done his bit, he was keeping people safe.’
The inquest heard that there was nothing in Zion’s hospital care that could have been done differently.
In a narrative conclusion, senior coroner Karen Dilks, said: ‘Zion died due to very rare and aggressive complications of the AstraZeneca covid vaccination.’
She added that there was ‘no evidence that earlier hospital admission would have altered the sad outcome.’
What is the risk of getting blood clot after AstraZeneca’s jab?
British health chiefs last month recommended all under-40s are offered an alternative to AstraZeneca’s vaccine because of blood clot fears.
More than 330 cases of a rare clotting disorder have been spotted among 24.2million recipients of the jab — or around one in every 75,000 people. Fifty-eight patients have died.
But statisticians analysed the numbers and found rates were slightly higher among younger adults, with females appearing to be at most risk, too.
Cambridge academics estimated around 1.9 in every 100,000 twenty-somethings given AstraZeneca’s jab would suffer serious blood clots alongside abnormally low platelet levels (thrombocytopenia) — the specific disorder linked to the jab. For thirty-somethings the figure was 1.5.
They compared that against the average number of Covid intensive care admissions that would be prevented by giving that cohort the jab. And they then analysed the risk/benefit ratio in different scenarios, based entirely on how widespread the disease was at the time.
For example, only 0.2 ICU admissions would be prevented for every 100,000 twenty-somethings given the jab at prevalence levels seen in April (fewer than 30,000 infections per week). For adults in their thirties, the figure was around 0.8.
It showed, however, the benefits of giving AstraZeneca’s vaccine to 40-49 year olds outweighed the potential risk (1.7 prevented ICU admissions per 100,000 people compared to 1.2 blood clots).
But the decision to recommend under-40s are offered Pfizer or Moderna’s jab instead was basically only taken because the outbreak was squashed to extremely low levels, as well as the fact younger people are known to face tiny odds of falling seriously ill with coronavirus.
For older adults, who the disease poses a much greater threat to, the benefits of vaccination are clear, regulators insist. Jabs have already saved around 13,000 lives in England, top scientists believe.
However, because there were so few blood clots, it made it impossible for No10’s vaccine advisory panel to give an exact age cut-off. Instead, they were only able to analyse figures by decade.
The first clots to alarm people were ones appearing in veins near the brains of younger adults in a condition called CSVT (cerebral sinus venous thrombosis).
Since that, however, people have developed clots in other parts of their bodies and they are usually linked to low numbers of platelets, which is unusual because platelets are usually used by the immune system to build the clots.
In most cases people recover fully and the blockages are generally easy to treat if spotted early, but they can trigger strokes or heart or lung problems if unnoticed.
Symptoms depend entirely on where the clot is, with brain blockages causing excrutiating headaches. Clots in major arteries in the abdomen can cause persistent stomach pain, and ones in the leg can cause swelling of the limbs.
Researchers in Germany believe the problem lies in the adenovirus vector — a common cold virus used so both vaccines can enter the body.
Academics investigating the issue say the complication is ‘completely absent’ in mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s and Moderna’s because they have a different delivery mechanism.
Experts at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, say the AstraZeneca vaccine enters the nucleus of the cell – a blob of DNA in the middle. For comparison, the Pfizer jab enters the fluid around it that acts as a protein factory.
Bits of coronavirus proteins that get inside the nucleus can break up and the unusual fragments then get expelled out into the bloodstream, where they can trigger clotting in a tiny number of people, scientists claim.