French family files case over woman's death following AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shot

A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a pharmacy ,in western France.
A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a pharmacy ,in western France.PHOTO: AFP

TOULOUSE, FRANCE (AFP) - The family of a woman who died of a blood clot at the age of after receiving the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine have filed a complaint with prosecutors in southwest France, a lawyer said on Friday (April 2).

The complaint was filed "against X" - not targeting any individual or entity at this stage - a practice allowed in France when the circumstances of a case are still unclear.

The aim of filing the complaint with prosecutors in the city of Toulouse is to "obtain an investigation", the French family's lawyer Etienne Boittin told AFP.

"It is a complaint 'against X', because we have no element against a named person for manslaughter," said Boittin, adding that this "classification can evolve" as the case develops.

The family of the woman, a social worker, "is not in a process of claiming or seeking responsibilities but simply wants explanations and clarifications on what happened," he added.

The woman - who was vaccinated in mid-March due to her work at a centre with disabled people - did not suffer from any particular health problem, added Boittin.

Her health deteriorated shortly after vaccination and she was hospitalised.

She died on March 29 of a blood clot on the brain.

"The objective of this complaint is to obtain an additional investigation - in particular an autopsy within a medico-legal framework - so we can know if this vaccine could have had a causal role in her death", added the lawyer.

France and several other European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations last month after briefly suspending the product over reports of blood clots in a small number of people who had the jab.

The French medicines regulator recommends the vaccine for those aged 55 and over after reports of blood clots in younger people.

The vaccine commission in neighbouring Germany said this week it recommended use of the jab only for people 60 and over.

The vaccine has been backed by the World Health Organisation and the EU's drugs regulator, which have said there was no evidence of a link to an increased risk of blood clots.

The same lawyer is also representing the family of a French medical student who died days after he received AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine in the western city of Nantes.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into that case while emphasising that no link had been established yet with the jab.