A UK-based Pfizer executive due to appear before a coroner in Mayo will not travel due to alleged threats on social media regarding vaccines.
Dr Gillian Ellsbury, the pharmaceutical giant's UK vaccines medical director, was due to appear in person at next month’s inquest into the death of Joseph McGinty (14) from Achill Island, who died three weeks after the Pfizer jab.
Dr Ellsbury is Pfizer’s chief witness in the case.
Representing Pfizer Ireland, Roddy Bourke of McCann Fitzgerald in Dublin, told Coroner Pat O’Connor at a preliminary inquest hearing in Swinford, Co Mayo, that Dr Ellsbury would not be attending in person.
“There have been threats on social media regarding Pfizer personnel and vaccines and Dr Ellsbury has been advised not to travel. She is interested to assist the inquest but in a virtual capacity,” Mr Bourke said.
“It’s a pattern that is happening in recent times, and it is a serious problem,” Mr Bourke said.
The coroner accepted that a virtual appearance would suffice.
“I certainly don’t want to put anyone at risk,” Mr O’Connor said.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Bourke confirmed that it was company officials at Pfizer and not UK police that issued the advice not to travel to the inquest.
Joseph McGinty, from The Valley, Achill Island, Co Mayo, a second year student, suffered either a reaction or significant medical change following the administration of the Pfizer vaccine.
He was admitted to on September 1st, 2021, and stayed overnight at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) before he was discharged the following day. He attended hospital again on September 8th for review and died on September 13th, three weeks after receiving the Pfizer jab at a vaccination centre.
Coroner Patrick O’Connor described the death as an issue of "significant public concern" at the opening of the inquest last November.
Dr Ellsbury is medical director for Pfizer’s vaccines practice. Prior to joining Pfizer, she was a GP for 13 years and a GP partner in a London practice from 2004 to 2014.
The inquest into Joseph McGinty’s death is due to open next month and to continue for at least three days.
Dr Ellsbury is expected to appear virtually on the third day of evidence. It is expected she will answer questions from Coroner Pat O’Connor on Pfizer’s vaccine trials and safety.
A number of other key witnesses are expected to appear on the same day, including chief medical officer Dr Breda Smyth, Anne Tobin, pharmacovigilance manager at the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), and National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) chairperson Karina Butler.
This week’s hearing was the fourth preliminary hearing into the boy’s death following the opening of the inquest last November. Legal representatives for the McGinty family, Pfizer Ireland and Mayo University Hospital will meet remotely in the coming weeks to finalise the list of witnesses due to attend and the scheduled running order.
A final statement from the boy’s mother Patricia McGinty is one of the documents the coroner is waiting to receive. Mrs McGinty’s evidence will be heard on the first day of inquest evidence alongside a statement from consultant pathologist at MUH Dr Fadel Bennani, who conducted the autopsy.
Dr Bennani sought a second opinion from Dr Michael McDermott, consultant paediatric histopathologist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
Joseph McGinty’s medical records have been circulated among the legal parties. A booklet of vaccine information has been provided to the Coroner, outlining vaccine policy from the Mayo Covid-19 vaccination centre.
Mr O’Connor asked that one specific hospital witness involved in the investigation process from an early stage, who cannot attend due to annual leave, be available to give evidence to the hearing.
The full inquest hearing is due to begin on July 18th at Swinford Courthouse, though the location may change in order to facilitate remote evidence.