EXCLUSIVE: Gareth is no anti-vaxxer, but his wife’s death certificate says she died from the AstraZeneca vaccine. After nearly two years of being ignored, he just wants her story to be heard

  • Award-winning radio presenter on Radio Newcastle Lisa Shaw died aged 44
  • Her husband Gareth Eve then launched legal action against AstraZeneca

Gareth Eve needed no reminder that his wife had died too young, but the process of clearing her wardrobe provided one anyway. ‘It was all wrong,’ he says. ‘I remembered my dad doing it when my grandad died, but then they were sorting out an old man’s suits and cardigans and walking sticks — the sort of things you should be dealing with in this situation.

‘You aren’t supposed to be faced with bright bikinis, yellow high heels, dresses that still have the labels on them and Kylie Minogue T-shirts.’

Lisa Shaw, an award-winning radio presenter on Radio Newcastle, was just 44 when she died in May 2021. Until she was admitted to hospital she had been fit, healthy and fizzing with the sort of energy her job on the morning show required.

Her devastated colleagues had to announce her death on air, but it was down to Gareth, now 43, to tell their six-year-old son Zach that his ‘mam’ wasn’t coming home. ‘I told him the morning after Lisa died. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

‘He climbed into our bed for a cuddle and I said the doctors had tried everything they could but they couldn’t make her better again. He cried, but you don’t know how much kids understand.

Lisa Shaw, an award-winning radio presenter, died aged 44 in May 2021 after having the covid vaccine

Lisa pictured with her husband Gareth Eve and their son Zach

‘I’m not religious, but I told him Lisa was in Heaven, which was a perfect place where she’d see Grandad again, and Sally — my dad’s dog.’

Zach is now eight, still too young to have the full facts of his mother’s death explained to him, but there is no question what killed her. In August 2021, Newcastle Coroner Karen Dilks recorded that Lisa had died ‘due to complications of an AstraZeneca Covid vaccination’.

‘That word AstraZeneca is on her death certificate,’ points out Gareth.

Lisa had been vaccinated on April 29, but started developing headaches a week later. On May 13, she was admitted to hospital where Gareth, reeling, was handed a print-out explaining what ‘vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia’ was.

It’s a rare condition (‘but not rare enough that they didn’t have a print-out,’ he says) leading to clots on the brain.

At first doctors were confident they could treat it, but on May 16, Lisa started to have speech problems. ‘We were having a conversation about Zach’s swimming lessons and she couldn’t get out the word “goggles”.’

It was discovered she had suffered a bleed on the brain, and was rushed to surgery where part of her skull was removed to ease the pressure. She never recovered and spent the last five days of her life on a ventilator, as her family gathered in shock.

‘I held her hand. It was all just a haze. Apart from the bandages, you wouldn’t have been able to tell there was anything wrong.

Lisa’s death certificate, which says she ‘died due to complications of an AstraZeneca Covid vaccination

Lisa had been vaccinated on April 29 but started developing headaches a week later. On May 13, she was admitted to hospital

Her husband Gareth has said: ‘I have been trying to get answers from AstraZeneca, and from the Government, since Lisa died’

The couple pictured at Grand Central Station in New York

‘She looked as if she was sleeping. She looked as she always looked — perfect.’

A devastating tragedy for one family, of course. But the questions raised by Lisa’s death have much wider implications.

And so, Gareth took a step which is the equivalent of lobbing a hand grenade into the vaccine debate. He launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, joining forces with another 75 families who have also lost loved-ones, or seen them severely disabled after having the vaccine.

Lawyers say the payouts, should the action be successful, could reach seven-figure sums.

READ MORE: Widower of BBC presenter who died from jab has ‘no alternative’ but to file suit against AstraZeneca


Who will foot the bill? Not AstraZeneca. Under a legal indemnity that the Government gave the company early in the pandemic (because of the need to roll out the vaccine fast), the UK taxpayer will have to pay any compensation awarded. Gareth finds this astonishing. ‘The idea that a drug company can be immune from any legal responsibility is staggering, but even if they are, what about moral responsibility?’

At his home in County Durham, Gareth insists this action is not about money (‘because no amount will ever bring Lisa back’) but about truth and justice.

‘I have been trying to get answers from AstraZeneca, and from the Government, since Lisa died. I have contacted my MP — who didn’t really want to know.

‘I have asked questions of three prime ministers now, including Boris Johnson who was in charge at the time, and I’ve been ignored, brushed off.

‘I think I’m an embarrassment to the authorities because Lisa’s death was inconvenient for them. It challenges their narrative that the vaccine was safe, and that any risk was so rare we shouldn’t even talk about it.’

Today, he is at pains to point out that he is absolutely not an anti-vaxxer. He went on to have two more doses even after his wife died (although he had the less-contentious Pfizer jab for them, and has long advocated people being able to have an informed choice).

‘I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m anti bulls***,’ he says. ‘I just want answers. After Lisa died, I was contacted by a woman whose husband died from exactly the same thing.

‘He was treated in the same hospital, by the same doctors, and ended up in the same high-dependency unit. What are the chances of that, with a condition that is supposed to be this rare?’

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was, of course, the first Covid jab approved for use in the UK in December 2020, with the Government ordering 100 million doses for its vaccination programme.

A study by the University of Oxford, published in August 2021, estimated that for every ten million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca, there were 66 extra cases of blood clots in the veins and seven extra cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain.

The authorities continue to stress its effectiveness, although it is worth noting that the vaccine is no longer used in the UK. In August 2022, it was announced there were no plans to order further AstraZeneca vaccines for the UK.

Gareth told his son that Lisa was in heaven ‘which was a perfect place where she’d see Grandad again, and Sally — my dad’s dog’

Gareth and Lisa, who worked on Radio Newcastle, pictured getting married 

At the time, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the decision was down to a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), that mRNA vaccines — such as the Pfizer or Moderna jabs — should primarily be used for boosters rather than viral vector vaccines such as AstraZeneca.

A JCVI spokesman said: ‘The results of the Cov-Boost trial conducted during the summer of 2021 provided good evidence that mRNA vaccines are the most effective option for the UK’s booster programme.’

This week, a spokesman for the DHSC said: ‘More than 144 million Covid vaccines have been given in England, which has helped the country to live with Covid and saved thousands of lives.

‘All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.’

At the time of the vaccine rollout, Lisa was thrilled to get the call for her jab.

READ MORE: BBC presenter’s widower suing AstraZeneca was vaccinated after her death but won’t let son be jabbed


‘She wanted to hug her mum again,’ Gareth recalls. ‘But she also thought it was the right thing to do, the responsible thing. She’d seen some friends and one of them had decided not to have the vaccine, which she couldn’t believe.’

Lisa was an intelligent and informed woman — she had studied journalism at university — but only after she died did Gareth start questioning some of the conversations they had had about the vaccine.

Something that torments him today is that, in March 2021 — just weeks before they were called for their vaccines — the AstraZeneca vaccine was mired in controversy. Other European countries, including France and Germany, had stopped using it over concerns about blood clots. No alarm bells rang. There was no sense of hesitation in their home.

‘We watched it on the news and I remember having a conversation with Lisa about it, and us concluding that it was all about Brexit — the Germans were annoyed with Britain for leaving the EU, so they weren’t going to have a British-made vaccine.

‘But now, I want to know what those countries saw in the reports that made them pull back on AstraZeneca.

‘Did Boris see those reports too and know that people were going to die? Was my wife collateral damage?’

These are difficult questions — but legitimate ones for any grieving widower to ask. Gareth’s frustrations are that, in asking them, he has been made to feel as if he has stepped out of line.

At the peak of the pandemic, you could argue that it was in the public interest not to fuel fears about vaccines. Now? Gareth says the pendulum has swung too far in that direction.

‘I went on TV shortly after Lisa died, but I’d love the opportunity to speak to the likes of Lorraine Kelly or Holly Willoughby without them rushing to point out the “alternative view . . . the safe and effective stats”. There is no debate about this. My wife died!

Gareth said he contemplated suicide the Christmas after Lisa died, but Zach stopped him

Gareth said he still sleeps with Lisa’s t-shirt under his pillow

‘But people like me have been made to feel that we are crackpots or conspiracy theorists. It’s a dirty secret. If you question it, you are accused of being an anti-vaxxer, or almost of being unpatriotic in some way.

‘But we aren’t crackpots. We are husbands and wives and families who just want answers. Taking legal action now seems to be the only way of getting them.’

He argues that the lack of public discourse ‘actually fuels the crackpots, because if you have a void there, then it will be filled with nonsense’. He has no patience, either, for the argument that in unprecedented times, difficult decisions were — and are — necessary for the greater public good.

‘How dare they tell me that,’ he says. ‘Because the decision I had to make was whether to let my six-year-old son come to his mother’s funeral.’

His grief is still raw. He tells me that he still sleeps with Lisa’s T-shirt under the pillow, still wishes it was him who had died after having the vaccine, rather than Lisa.

‘Zach would have been better having his mam,’ he says. ‘At that age, children need their mums more than their dads. There is nothing that can take the place of a mammy hug.’

He and Lisa got together in 2011, while both were working for the same radio station. She was one of the star presenters; he worked upstairs, on the advertising side. He admired her from afar, then one day sneaked down ‘and said the printer on our floor was broken, which was a lie’.

He could not believe that someone like Lisa — ‘so bubbly, positive, vibrant’ — would be interested in him, but she was.

Zach arrived in 2015; in 2018 they got married. ‘Life was perfect. She was perfect. She turned my life around,’ he says. ‘I suffer from anxiety, and just having Lisa there made everything better.

‘I always say that she knew me better than I knew myself. She gave me the instruction manual for life. My problem is that she took it with her.’

The realisation that Lisa was seriously ill did not happen until quite late. She tried ‘all the usual things’ when she started to develop headaches a week after her vaccine. When over-the-counter medicines didn’t work, she consulted her GP, and ended up having blood tests — which flagged a serious issue.

‘It was about her platelets being low. They sent an ambulance in the middle of the night, but even then there was no panic about it. She was up and dressed. She walked to the ambulance. Her sister had come to look after Zach and she didn’t even hug her. It didn’t occur to any of us that she wouldn’t come home again.’

Even as things became desperate, he was perhaps in denial.

‘It just didn’t seem possible. I remember after she had the surgery, they were saying that if she did pull through, she might not be the same. There could be brain damage. I said, “We will deal with it, whatever”.’

The whole country was in shock at Lisa’s death, and the reasons for it — which were widely reported. Memories are muddy now though, and Gareth says he constantly feels the need to ‘prove’ in some way that she died from the vaccine. ‘I feel I have to whip out the death certificate or quote the coroner.’

Gareth also said he still wishes it was him who had died after having the vaccine, rather than Lisa

Despite the awful tragedy, Gareth added that little Zach is thriving 

He contemplated suicide the Christmas after Lisa died. What stopped him? Zach, of course.

‘I saw a therapist who said she had treated children who had lost a parent, and they had gone on to have happy lives, but she’d also treated children who had lost a parent, then a second one — to suicide. They never recovered.’

He is hard on himself, and it cannot be easy coping with single parenthood amid such grief, but Zach seems to be thriving. There is a close-knit wider family, including Lisa’s three sisters, two of whom live close by.

How, as a society, should we support families like this, who have found themselves in a dreadful predicament through no fault of their own? There is official recognition for families who have been affected by the vaccine.

Those who have suffered ill health are entitled to financial support under the Government-run Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme. But this was not designed for Covid-related situations (it was launched in 1979) and payments are limited to £120,000 per claim and applications must prove severe disablement.

Gareth was incredulous when he got the application forms. ‘There was no option to say your loved-one had died. It was all about proving they were disabled.

‘I had to amend my form. Even then it took over a year for them to pay out.’

The sense of injustice among all the families in this class action is strong. Some talk of feeling like war veterans who were sent to the front line, did what was required of them by their country, and have now been abandoned.

Last week, the British Medical Journal reported that, in response to a Freedom of Information request, NHS Business Services (which operates the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme) revealed that it had received 4,017 claims relating to Covid vaccines. Of those, 334 were for a death.

Gareth’s solicitor, Sarah Moore, a partner in the Hausfeld law firm, one of two bringing this action, stresses that a legal action was a last resort. ‘The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme is not working. It fails to provide those who have been bereaved or seriously injured by vaccination with adequate financial support, and of course it only pays out where 60 per cent disablement can be proven.’

An AstraZeneca spokesman said the company could not comment about ongoing legal matters, but stressed that ‘patient safety is our highest priority and regulatory authorities have clear and stringent standards to ensure the safe use of all medicines, including vaccines.’

They added: ‘Regulators around the world state that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of extremely rare potential side-effects.’

Whatever the outcome, this will be a difficult one to explain to a little boy who has lost his mum.

Rare complication? ‘It wasn’t rare in our house, was it?’ says Gareth.

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