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AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine linked to rare neurological disorder in India, England

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Eleven people who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine developed a rare neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, according to two separate studies conducted by clinicians in India and England.

According to Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body.

Seven cases were reported from a medical centre in Kerala, where approximately 1.2 million people received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, known as Covishield in India. Four cases were reported from Nottingham, UK, where approximately 700,000  people received the jab.

All 11 had received the Covid preventive between 10 and 22 days before.

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) occurs when the body’s immune system incorrectly attacks a portion of the peripheral nervous system, which is a network of nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.

The two studies, which were published on June 10 in the journal Annals of Neurology, describe an unusual variant of GBR characterised by prominent facial weakness.

The frequency of GBS in the areas where cases were reported was estimated to be up to ten times higher than expected, according to the authors of the two studies.

The researchers reported that as of April 22, 2021, approximately 1.5 million people in three districts of Kerala had been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines, with over 80% of these people (1.2 million) receiving the AstraZeneca preventive.

During the period from mid-March to mid-April 2021, researchers from Aster Medcity in Kochi and the Indo-American Brain and Spine Center in Vaikom, Kerala, observed seven cases of GBS that occurred within two weeks of the first dose of vaccination in this population.

According to the researchers, all seven patients developed severe GBS.

According to the researchers, the frequency of GBS was 1.4 to 10-fold higher than expected for a population of this size during this time period.

According to the researchers, the frequency of facial weakness on both sides of the face, which occurs in less than 20% of GBS cases, suggests a pattern associated with vaccination.

While SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are very safe, the authors of the UK study from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust reported four cases of the bifacial weakness with paraesthesias variant of GBS occurring within three weeks of vaccination with the Oxford-AstraZeneca SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

We recommend that vigilance be maintained for cases of bifacial weakness with paraesthesias variant GBS following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, and that post-vaccination surveillance programmes ensure robust data capture of this outcome in order to assess causality, they added.

Although the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of this relatively rare outcome (5.8 per million), the researchers cautioned clinicians to be on the lookout for this potential adverse event.

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