Patients who suffered brain damage as a result of taking a swine flu vaccine are to receive multi-million-pound payouts from the UK government.
The government is expected to receive a bill of approximately £60 million, with each of the 60 victims expected to receive about £1 million each.
Peter Todd, a lawyer who represented many of the claimants, told the Sunday Times: “There has never been a case like this before. The victims of this vaccine have an incurable and lifelong condition and will require extensive medication.”
It was subsequently revealed that the vaccine, Pandemrix, can cause narcolepsy and cataplexy in about one in 16,000 people, and many more are expected to come forward with the symptoms.
The Pandemrix vaccine was manufactured by pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo Smith Kline, which refused to supply governments unless it was indemnified against any claim for damage caused. The company will pay the bill, and claim the money back from the government.
Mignot has been paid by GSK to research the effects of the drug.
Among those affected are NHS medical staff, many of whom are now unable to do their jobs because of the symptoms brought on by the vaccine. They will be suing the government for millions in lost earnings.
However, the vast majority of patients affected – around 80% – are children.
Among them is Josh Hadfield, 8, from Somerset, who is on anti-narcolepsy drugs costing £15,000 a year to help him stay awake during the school day.
“If you make him laugh, he collapses. His memory is shot. There is no cure. He says he wishes he hadn’t been born. I feel incredibly guilty about letting him have the vaccine,” said his mother Caroline Hadfield, 43.
Despite a 2011 warning from the European Medicines Agency against using the vaccine on those under 20 and a study indicating a 13-fold heightened risk of narcolepsy in vaccinated children, GSK has refused to acknowledge a link.
“Further research is needed to confirm what role the vaccine may have played in the development of narcolepsy in those affected,” the company said in a statement.
By Tom Porter