THE following transcriptions are extracts from an interview with UK Column News on March 29 in which a woman, Nicola, describes what happened to her fit and healthy 58-year-old husband after his first AstraZeneca vaccine injection.
From her own research she diagnosed his condition as a serious spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis and insisted he was admitted to hospital.
This condition emerged as a risk during the drug’s trials. A report in the Lancet in December 2020 on ‘Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine efficacy’ revealed that trials were temporarily paused following several transverse myelitis cases in the trial group.*
An earlier event, reported in September, had triggered a prior a global shutdown of AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials. The drug maker’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, revealed during a private conference call with investors that the trial participant was a woman in the United Kingdom who experienced neurological symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis. The trial restart in October, after a second volunteer had a neurological event, was controversial.
Nicola’s story is not for the fainthearted. Her unedited account can be heard here in her interview on UK Column News with co-host Brian Gerrish**
NICOLA: He had his first Oxford, the AstraZeneca, vaccine on 3 March. The next day he became . . . feeling a bit unwell, a bit of a headache, went to bed for a couple of hours, got back up. And then he felt fatigued for the rest of the week. He felt just really drained. His legs did. And we were just putting it down to side effects of the vaccine. But the 14th day from that, from the 3rd, his legs were getting worse on the Wednesday. He felt like they were numb. Early hours Thursday morning he was . . . he woke up with really numb legs and pins and needles in his feet. And he also had pins and needles in his hands. His bottom lip went numb and his taste buds were funny to drink water and it tasted really chemically, he could taste a lot of things within water and everything. And his skin was very touch-sensitive. On the Friday, his legs deteriorated more and I had to pick him up from work, he couldn’t walk, hardly. We, then he rang his GP, who didn’t take the reaction seriously and didn’t ring, wasn’t calling straight back, which we weren’t happy with, so I had to take him to a walk-in centre. He was then referred to go to the local Accident & Emergency centre. His back pain, he also got, then, lower back pain on the Friday, which became started to be relevant. And by Friday evening his legs had completely gone. And I was carrying him and picking him up off the floor at home.
PRESENTER: How old was your husband? Was he basically fit before he had the vaccine?
NICOLA: Yes, he’s always in work. He works full time. He isn’t on no long-term medication, only other than for cholesterol, bit of cholesterol tablets he takes. He takes no long-term medication for anything else. He’s 58. He’s never had a day off work in his life. He’s always been at work. He doesn’t have no health . . . gets over colds really easily. You know, he’s, there was no health issues to give me any reason or concern to think he would react in this way.
PRESENTER: Had you both decided that the vaccine was the right thing to have? Was he keen to have the vaccine?
NICOLA: We were believing what was coming through from the media on telly, that the vaccination was safe. The vaccination only gave mild side-effects. Nothing was really portrayed out there to the public about the seriousness of the side of what could happen. And you don’t know you’re taking that risk then when you agree to have it. I didn’t think the government would give out a vaccine that does this to somebody. I believed they would be bringing out a vaccination that would be safe, not with these effects.
When we took him to the Accident & Emergency unit, they discharged him, telling him he had an allergy. And on the Saturday, he progressively worsened. He still couldn’t use his legs, I was carrying him around the house. He was in pain. He was writhering [sic, ‘writhing’] with sharp pains through his body, through his lower back and through his legs. He was in agony. I was giving him as much pain medication that I could at home. And they’d, the second day, when we took him to the Accident & Emergency, they discharged him again and told him he had sciatica. And they sent him away with diazepam, naproxen and co-codamol to take. And then, and he was just, he just got really worse. And an ambulance was called again by Monday morning. And they rushed him in and it was me, by finding the research of transverse myelitis, I found that it had halted the Oxford trials and there’s been some case too in New York on the trials. And that’s where I came across this transverse myelitis.
And I insisted to the hospital that this is what it was. All his symptoms were the transverse myelitis. And I showed them how it was linked to these trials. And I pushed the hospital to look at this and I managed to speak to a doctor. He then said he was admitting him into neurology and they would look at this transverse myelitis. And since Monday, he’s been admitted. He was admitted on the Monday then into neurology. And he’s been . . . he’s gone through an MRI scan, which he couldn’t bear too long because of the pain, and he’s had to have a lumbar puncture yesterday. The doctors have told him it’s the AstraZeneca. The doctors have told him that. It’s attacking his body. So now he’s got to have this haematology, which they’re starting today.
I’ve just been to the hospital this morning, they’re starting it today, with hope that it gives him some feeling back and to start getting some feeling back, because he can’t feel nothing from the waist down. He’s in bed, he can’t feel nothing at all. He’s still numb from the waist down. But he’s just got more conversant to speak to me with it. He was in so much pain. And I think he’s so numb now with the medication he’s on and the tablets they’re giving him and he’s able to talk to me now, whereas before he couldn’t. The first two days he was just writhing around the bed in agony, ringing me and begging me to get him . . . get him, because he couldn’t do it. The pain was horrendous. He was in so much pain. So that is where I am at today.
PRESENTER: Did the hospital recognise that this was an adverse reaction to the . . . to the vaccine? Did they confirm that?
NICOLA: Not . . . not until he got admitted to neurology. All the way . . . GPs, Accident & Emergency weren’t acknowledging it at all, they weren’t . . . they weren’t acting seriously about reactions with the vaccine, I don’t feel. I don’t feel any of them are – through from my GP to the Accident & Emergency department. But once he got transferred to neurology, that’s where he’s got dealt with properly and they’ve (fragment of word, or word unclear) you know, they know it’s a reaction to the vaccine, they’ve told him it’s a . . . it’s the vaccine.
PRESENTER: And . . . and was this sort of a surprise to them, or have they . . . have they come across this before, then?
NICOLA: Well, the first Monday and Tuesday, my husband couldn’t speak. He couldn’t talk. It was very laboured, couldn’t speak to me, the energy . . . he’d got none. Erm . . . and it’s only since, I’d say yesterday, that he’s been able to speak to me more. And the fellow in the bed next to him has come in with the same. They’re treating him. He’s just managed to get a bit of sensation, feeling, in the bottom of his feet yesterday. He’s been in there a week. And then it was today or last night, my husband told me, ‘Everybody on here has got the same symptoms.’ I go, ‘So, how many can you see who are suffering with the same things as you?’ He says, ‘Six people.’ So there were six people on that ward, he’s saying, that have the same thing. And that’s the neurology ward.
PRESENTER: Are you able to get in and see him and to be with him?
NICOLA: Erm, no. That was the hardest bit – to hear him ringing me crying and begging me for help was so hard because I couldn’t go up there. And I couldn’t help him through it. I’m sorry if I get upset.
PRESENTER: Don’t . . . don’t be sorry.
NICOLA: So, but . . . by just taking him, erm . . . I’ve taken him a bag of things to the hospital and I’ve been able go to the end of the ward where you just pass a carrier bag over to the staff. And I was very lucky that the bed that he’s in, I could see through from the doorway and I’ve been able to see him today to wave at him.
PRESENTER: Right, and do you . . .
NICOLA: So he knows I’ve been there, you know?
PRESENTER: Why are you not allowed in on the ward?
NICOLA: Because of the Covid. There’s restrictions that the hospitals have got into place. You can go into the hospital, but you can’t enter on to any of the wards. So there’s too many restrictions to go in.
PRESENTER: How is he taking this mentally? How does he feel about what’s happened?
NICOLA: At first it (word or words unclear) because he said, ‘I can’t feel . . . I can’t feel nothing, Nicki, I can’t feel nothing.’ You know, it’s like your life’s taken . . . his legs were taken away from him, you know, and . . . everything would be going through his head, because he’s the main bread earner, so to speak, the earner of the family. So he is going to be so stressed. (word or words unclear) he would automatically think and worry about me and, you know, the kids. So, mentally, I would imagine everything’s been going through his head. But the first few days, he was just . . . the pain and illness would be . . . was too . . . he couldn’t think of anything. He was too ill.
NICOLA: And he loves his . . . he loves his job. He loves working. He loves his job. So, you know, erm . . . that would be massive for him, to even think he doesn’t know what feeling he’s going to get back in his legs. Is he going to get his feeling back in his legs? Is he going to have any long-term problems from this afterwards? We really . . . you know, all these questions have been going through my head. And I don’t know yet. I don’t know. Erm . . .
PRESENTER: What about being able to seek help or guidance with what (words unclear due to speaking over)?
NICOLA: (speaking over) I didn’t know where to go to. I, I truly believe that if I went to anything like MPs or government resources, I feel I’ll be fobbed off. I truly believe anyone like that will just try and fob me off. I mean I’ve already stated he isn’t having the second dose of the vaccine. And I’m not having it myself, my daughters are not having it and my grandchildren aren’t having it. I worry for my mum because she’s had the first Pfizer vaccine jab already and she’s due to have her second soon.
PRESENTER: So, you, you haven’t been able to sit down with anybody who is qualified to be able to talk about the fact that this is an adverse reaction to the vaccine?
NICOLA: I haven’t spoke to any consultants who can tell me what’s gone on with the MRI scan, the lumbar puncture, what’s . . . you know, Tony’s told me, they’ve told him, the doctor’s spoke to him and told him it was the AstraZeneca. They’ve told him that his proteins are being attacked. They’ve told him he’s got to have another MRI scan. And they’ve told him he’s got to have this . . . I’m not sure what it’s called, haemoglobin treatment for five days.
* From the Lancet, December 8, 2020: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32623-4/fulltext ‘There were 175 serious adverse events (84 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 91 in the control group), three of which were possibly related to the intervention: transverse myelitis occurring 14 days after a ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 booster vaccination, haemolytic anaemia in a control recipient, and fever higher than 40°C in a participant still masked to group allocation. Two additional transverse myelitis cases considered unlikely to be related to the intervention occurred: one 10 days after the first dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 was attributed to pre-existing multiple sclerosis and one in a control group that occurred 68 days after vaccination. The transverse myelitis cases resulted in temporarily pausing the trial and all participants have recovered or are recovering.’
** This video, since censored by YouTube, can still be accessed here