Covid-19 in France

Paris prosecutors open manslaughter probe into post-AstraZeneca vaccine deaths

Vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, March 22, 2021, (file)
Vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, March 22, 2021, (file) AP - Matthias Schrader

Prosecutors in Paris are taking on and combining into a involuntary manslaughter probe three separate investigations into the deaths of three people who were given the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in France.

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Prosecutors specialised in leading complex investigations into health products announced on Wednesday they will take on the preliminary probes which were already opened after complaints were filed in Toulouse, Paris and Nantes.

The initial investigations had been carried out by regional prosecutors.

According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the plaintiffs are questioning if the Astrazeneca vaccine played a causal role in the deaths of their relatives.

“We first went to local prosecutors for the sake of speed and to have autopsies and then asked them to transfer the file to Paris,” Etienne Boittin, the lawyer behind the complaints told AFP.

In Nantes, a medical student aged 26 died suddenly of a blood clot on 18 March just a few days after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. The case in Toulouse concerns a social worker aged 38 who also died of a blood clot after her health deteriorated sharply after the jab.

Boittin said he was handling fifteen cases of people who died in France after having been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, the majority of them aged “under 60 years”.

France’s national health authority Haute autorité de Santé (HAS) last month said the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those aged 55 and over because of reports of potentially deadly blood clots in a very small number of younger people vaccinated.

The move is broadly similar to actions taken by several European countries although Denmark has banned the use of the vaccine outright.

The authorities have also said under 55s who received a first injection of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should be given a second jab from a different producer.

However France has said it has full confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine for the over 55s and emphasised it retains a key role in the vaccine rollout.

“You are 50 times more likely to get a vein blood clot crossing the Atlantic by plane than getting vaccinated with AstraZeneca. Vaccines protect us from Covid-19. Let’s not give into mistrust!” Health Minister Olivier Véran said earlier this month.

France has administered more than 20.9 million Covid-19 vaccinations since the end of December, including 14.8 million first injections, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

22.2 percent of the entire population and 28.3 percent of the adult population have now received a first shot against Covid-19, it said.

(with AFP)

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