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Vaccine trial patient files first US lawsuit against AstraZeneca

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Published Time: 13.05.2024 - 23:40:27 Modified Time: 13.05.2024 - 23:40:27

American woman says she was left permanently disabled by vaccine credited with saving six million lives An American woman who took part in the US clinical trial of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is suing the company, claiming it left her “permanently disabled”

American woman says she was left permanently disabled by vaccine credited with saving six million lives


An American woman who took part in the US clinical trial of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is suing the company, claiming it left her “permanently disabled”.

Brianne Dressen, a 42-year-old former teacher from Utah, says she developed a severe neurological condition after taking part in a vaccine trial in 2020.

She is suing AstraZeneca for an alleged breach of contract, after she said it failed to provide medical care for her side effects.

Her lawsuit is thought to be the first of its kind in the US, where the British-made vaccine was tested in clinical trials but never approved for use.

More than 50 people have already filed a class action lawsuit against AstraZeneca in the UK, in a case that could result in a multimillion-pound payout. The company asked the EU to withdraw authorisation for its vaccine in its member states last week.

In court papers filed yesterday, Ms Dressen claimed she signed an agreement with the company that promised it would “pay the costs of medical treatment for research injuries, provided that the costs are reasonable, and you did not cause the injury yourself”.


However, she said when she experienced a severe sensation of pins and needles across her body shortly after she received the jab in November 2020, AstraZeneca did not cover the cost of her medical care.

Ms Dressen told The Telegraph she had been left unable to work after being diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy – a condition that causes numbness and pain due to damaged nerves. Her condition was classified as “post-vaccine neuropathy” because of its link to the jab.

“This thing took me out of my job – I’m still permanently disabled,” she said. “I still have that horrific nightmare of the pins and needles sensation coursing through my body, head to toe, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

After being hospitalised several times after her vaccination, she said her medical bills had run into thousands of dollars, and that she had refused a small payout that would have limited its liability in any lawsuit.

Her complaint, filed to a court in Utah, said Ms Dressen had become “a shadow of her former self: unable to work, unable to do any athletic activity, unable to parent the way she had, and unable to drive more than a few blocks at a time”.

There is a documented link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and neurological conditions like peripheral neuropathy in some rare cases of patients who received the jab.

A study published last year in the journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports found a “greater than expected occurrence of severe neurological adverse events … following different kinds of Covid-19 vaccination” but concluded that the evidence was not strong enough to recommend the vaccine be withdrawn.


Utah law allows complainants who sue for breach of contract to claim for costs resulting from the breach and for damages – which could result in a significant payout for Ms Dressen if a court finds in her favour.

She said that she had volunteered for the clinical trial to do “all the things that I thought needed to be done to help support my community” but claimed she had been treated as “nothing more than a number” by AstraZeneca.

Ms Dressen said the worst impact of her illness had been on her two children, who are now aged nine and eleven.

“They don’t remember who I was before, already,” she said.”It really sucks. The worst part, the biggest punishment of all of this, is the impact on my kids.”

She added: “Hindsight is 20:20, but at the time, I really genuinely believed that this would be like our generation’s moment to show how we can overcome adversity. I really did.”

Ms Dressen is not suing the company for a specific amount, but has personally incurred legal bills of tens of thousands of dollars and is claiming additional damages for emotional distress, lost income, transportation and legal fees.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was heralded by Boris Johnson as a “triumph for British science” and is credited with saving six million lives during the pandemic.

However, it has also been blamed for dozens of deaths in Britain of patients who contracted blood clots after receiving it. Many more reported illness and injury.

On April 28, the company admitted in court documents for the first time that the jab could cause blood clots “in very rare cases”.

The US trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine involved 32,000 participants and concluded that it was 79 per cent effective against Covid-19.


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