An Australian actor who got a Covid jab while living in the UK has told of her heartbreak after suffering a rare but devastating side effect of vaccination.
In February 2020, just weeks before Covid ripped across the globe, Melle Stewart was enjoying standing ovations in Belfast for her role in the musical ‘Kiss Me, Kate’.
Now the 42-year-old struggles to put a sentence together, speaking only slowly, and ‘grieving’ for the successful stage career she has lost.
Ms Stewart is a victim of a vanishingly rare side effect of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, which she received in May 2021 as part of the nation’s historic jab rollout.
Like a handful of other Brits, she suffered a devastating blood clot complication from the jab, resulting in a stroke that robbed her of her ability to talk and walk.
Melle Stewart and her husband Ben Lewis were enjoying successful careers in theatre before Covid struck and were keen to get vaccinated to help the UK return to normal
But Ms Stewart suffered a devastating stroke resulting from a extremely rare but incredibly dangerous complication from the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine
Ms Stewart, alongside other claimants, is now taking AstraZeneca to court, with husband Ben Lewis saying they felt misled by the Government over the jab’s safety.
Though having suffered greatly, she was and continues to be a ‘staunch and proud’ advocate for vaccination, having gone on to receive other non-AstraZeneca Covid vaccines since her injury.
Ms Stewart described how as an actor, the loss of her ability to express herself had been devastating.
‘Words are my life and it has gone now. I say the words but getting them out is an issue,’ she told The Telegraph.
Ms Stewart got her first Covid vaccine on May 24, 2021, at the then Sandown Park Vaccination Centre in London.
She recalled how a volunteer at the centre had remarked she looked too young to be eligible for the AstraZeneca jab.
Just weeks prior, health officials had pulled the AstraZeneca jab for anyone under 40-years-of-age, spooked by a link to potentially deadly blood clots in this group.
However, Ms Stewart corrected the volunteer, as she had turned 40 in November 2020.
With that, she got the AstraZeneca jab, even getting a post-jab sticker to mark the occasion.
Two weeks later she was fighting for her life.
Ms Stewart awoke at midnight, 14 days after her jab, due to a ‘strange feeling’ on the right side of her body.
She tried to get out of bed but collapsed.
Rushed to hospital, she quickly lost all ability to walk and speak.
Scans revealed she had suffered a stroke caused by two blood clots that had formed in the main vein of her brain.
Surgeons battled to save her life, eventually being forced to remove part of her skull, in a desperate bid to reduce the pressure building up in her brain.
Investigations revealed she was a victim of Vaccine-Induced Thrombocytopenic Thrombosis (VITT).
VITT is a complication from the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine so rare it was missed in clinical trials. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks a normal component of the blood called platelet factor 4, causing clumps that can go on to form blood clots.
Ms Stewart would spend the next few weeks in an induced coma, receiving blood transfusions to help remove the antibodies causing the clots.
After waking, Ms Stewart spent an extended stay in hospital learning to walk and speak again, only leaving in February last year.
The actor got her Covid vaccine on May 24, 2021, at the then Sandown Park Vaccination Centre in London
What followed was a terrifying ordeal 14 days later, when awoke in the middle of the night from a ‘strange feeling’ and then collapsed, shortly after being rushed to hospital
Scans revealed she had suffered a stroke caused by two blood clots that had formed in the main vein of her brain
Mr Lewis, a fellow actor, stopped working to care for his wife.
He insisted the couple are not anti-vaxxers but believe they were misled about the safety of the jab by the Government.
‘We had an expectation this vaccine was safe to use but AstraZeneca was not safe to use in this case,’ he told The Telegraph.
The couple say they have received a no-fault £120,000 payment the Government — offered to those who can prove they have been made severely disabled as a result of vaccination or the families of those killed by jabs.
But the couple said the sum falls far short of their lost earnings. As a result, they are taking legal action against AstraZeneca.
‘While there are only a relatively small number of people injured or worse, it is incumbent on the Government to take care of the very few people who have done the right thing for the country and society,’ Mr Lewis told the newspaper.
The couple are currently living in Brisbane to be closer to the support offered by their family and friends.
They have a fundraiser to support their loss of earnings and Ms Stewart’s ongoing care and recovery.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Patient safety is our highest priority and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines.
‘Our sympathy goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones or reported health problems.’
They added that evidence has repeatedly shown the company’s Covid jab, called Vaxzevria, is safe.
‘Vaxzevria has continuously been shown to have an acceptable safety profile and regulators around the world consistently state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side effects,’ they said.
She would spend the next few weeks in an induced coma, receiving blood transfusions to help remove the antibodies causing the clots
Ms Stewart (right) had enjoyed a successful career in UK theatre pictured here in the role as Alice in a 2015 production of ‘A Damsel in Distress’ performed at the Festival Theatre, Chichester
Ms Stewart is only able to speak slowly and with great effort, described how as an actor, the loss of her ability to express herself had been devastating: ‘Words are my life and it has gone now’
‘The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has granted full marketing approval for Vaxzevria for the UK based on the safety profile and efficacy of the vaccine.’
Ms Stewart’s sharing of her ordeal comes just days after two test cases from other AstraZeneca victims were launched in the UK a move that could pave the way for dozens more.
One of the claimants is IT engineer Jamie Scott, who suffered a brain haemorrhage the day after his first AstraZeneca jab, leaving him with permanent brain damage.
Another case is being brought by the widower and two children of Alpa Tailor, 35, who died from blood clots on her brain after having the jab.
If successful, vaccine damage payouts could be in the region of £1million each.
With 90 British families in similar situations, the total bill could reach £90million.
The British taxpayer is expected to foot the bill under an indemnity agreement signed by ministers in the darkest days of the Covid pandemic to get vaccines produced as quickly as possible.
MHRA data suggests 81 Brits have died as a result of blood clot complications linked to the AstraZeneca Covid jab, with a further unconfirmed number injured and/or disabled.
Almost 50million doses of the company’s jab, which was developed in partnership with Oxford University, were dished out in the UK.
It has been credited with saving 6million lives globally by offering protection against severe illness from the Covid virus.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk