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Cancer jab 'unlikely' to have caused death

An investigation has shown the death of a girl in the UK was unlikely to have been caused by the Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine

Fears over the safety of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine, following the death of a girl in Coventry, UK, should be allayed following the assertion that she had a "serious underlying medical condition".

After an investigation, NHS Coventry has said the vaccination was "most unlikely to have caused the death" of Natalie Morton, who was 14. She fell ill a few hours after receiving the jab on Monday.

Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said the results of a preliminary post-mortem examination had "revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death".

Further in-depth tests have been undertaken, the results of which will take some time, she added. "However, indications are that it was most unlikely that the HPV vaccination was the cause of death."

The injection is part of a national immunisation programme to protect girls against the two strains of human papilloma virus (HPV) that cause more than 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

The batch of vaccine has been quarantined as a precaution and GSK will test it.

Dr Pim Kon, GSK UK's medical director, said: "We have taken the decision to voluntarily recall this batch as a further precautionary measure while the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Natalie's death is conducted. 

"GSK will continue to work closely with the Department of Health(DH) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and do everything we can to support the investigation."

The national programme will continue.

30th September 2009

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