BBC presenter Lisa Shaw died of AstraZeneca vaccine complications, coroner confirms

44-year-old Lisa Shaw died in May after experiencing rare complications from the COVID vaccine.

BBC radio presenter Lisa Shaw
BBC presenter Lisa Shaw died from AstraZeneca vaccine complications

44-year-old Lisa Shaw died in May after experiencing rare complications from the COVID vaccine.

A coroner has confirmed that Lisa Shaw, the BBC radio presenter who passed away earlier this year at the age of 44, died as a result of complications from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The BBC Radio Newcastle journalist suffered a brain haemorrhage caused by a blood clot three weeks after receiving her first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Within days of being jabbed, Lisa began complaining of headaches and took herself to A&E at a hospital in Durham, where she was diagnosed with a blood clot. Despite the best efforts of doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where she was transferred and received various treatments including cutting away part of her skull, the mother-of-one died on 21 May.

Although a connection to the AZ vaccination was suspected, it was only confirmed this week by Karen Dilks, Newcastle's senior coroner. "Lisa died due to complications of an AstraZeneca Covid vaccine," she announced at the inquest. Pathologist Tuomo Polvikoski told the coroner in the hearing that the radio presenter had been fit and healthy before receiving the vaccine. "Based on available clinical information, [the vaccine] seems to be the most likely explanation," he said.

In a statement issued after the coroner's hearing, husband Gareth Eve said on behalf of Lisa's family: "This is another difficult day in what has been a devastating time for us. The death of our beloved Lisa has left a terrible void in our family and in our lives."

He went on to describe Lisa Shaw as "truly... the most wonderful wife, mum, daughter, sister and friend" and requested privacy while they grieve and rebuild their lives.

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The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has come up against widespread scrutiny since it was first approved for use against coronavirus late last year. Following reports of extremely rare blood clots and a number of deaths, people under 40 in the UK are now offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as standard. However, a recent study into the safety of the vaccine has confirmed that its benefit still firmly outweighs its risk in the majority.

Researchers assessed the records of more than 29 million people who received a first dose of a Covid vaccine between December and April, as well as nearly 1.8 million who were infected with the virus. They analysed the cases for complications up to 28 days after being jabbed or infected, and the results, which were published in the British Medical Journal, found that the vaccine still provides significantly more protection than risk.

The study concluded that for every 10 million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, 107 would be hospitalised or die from thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count, which can cause internal bleeding and haemorrhages). This risk is nearly nine times lower than the risk of developing the same condition following COVID infection, however. It also found that for every 10 million people vaccinated with AZ, 66 would be hospitalised or die from blood clots in the veins. This is nearly 200 times lower than the risk of developing a blood clot following an infection.

In regards to the Pfizer vaccine, the same study found that for every 10 million people vaccinated with it, 143 extra strokes would occur. In a similar pattern to the AstraZeneca findings, this risk is nearly 12 times lower than the risk of a stroke following a COVID infection.

So while there are a small number of very tragic cases that cause loss of life following the AstraZeneca vaccine, , like Lisa's, overall the balance of risk makes it safer to get vaccinated against coronavirus than to go without.

Catriona Harvey-Jenner

Cat is a Senior Editor at Marie Claire, covering news and features across the brand's key purpose pillars, including women's issues, politics, career, mental health, female empowerment and equality, as well as books.