Coronavirus: Vaccines/Immunity

US doctor's death after coronavirus vaccination being investigated

MIAMI • The health authorities are investigating the case of a Florida doctor who died from an unusually severe blood disorder 16 days after receiving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Gregory Michael, a 56-year-old obstetrician and gynaecologist in Miami Beach, received the vaccine at Mount Sinai Medical Centre on Dec 18 and died 16 days later from a brain haemorrhage, his wife, Ms Heidi Neckelmann, wrote in a Facebook post.

Shortly after receiving the vaccine, Dr Michael developed an extremely serious form of a condition known as acute immune thrombocytopenia, which prevented his blood from clotting properly.

In a statement, Pfizer, the maker of the vaccine, said it was "actively investigating" the case, "but we don't believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine".

About nine million people in the United States have received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine, the two authorised in the United States. So far, serious problems reported were 29 cases of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. None were reported as fatal.

Local and federal agencies are investigating Dr Michael's death. Several experts said the case was highly unusual but could have been a severe reaction to the vaccine.

Dr Michael had "absolutely no medical issues" and no existing health conditions, Ms Neckelmann, who declined to be interviewed by phone as she made funeral preparations, said in a text message to The New York Times. "Never had any reaction to any medication or vaccines." Her husband, she added, was a healthy, active person who did not smoke or take any medication.

For two weeks, doctors tried to raise Dr Michael's platelet count, and "experts from all over the country were involved in his care", she wrote on Facebook.

"He was conscious and energetic through the whole process, but two days before a last-resort surgery, he got a hemorrhagic stroke caused by the lack of platelets that took his life in a matter of minutes," she wrote.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2021, with the headline 'US doctor's death after coronavirus vaccination being investigated'. Subscribe