Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Nature Study: Greater Risk Of Neurological Complications From COVID Infection Than From Vaccine

Credit ACIP/CDC    


The pernicious, false narrative I keep seeing on Twitter and other social media is that COVID is mild disease - one that 99% easily recover from - and it is the vaccine that is deadly, and is the `real cause' of COVID fatalities.  

Amazingly, millions of people apparently accept this as gospel, and are quick to point out (unverified)  VAERS reports, and other individual (often anecdotal) reports of suspected harm following vaccination, as `proof'. 

While vaccines can produce unwanted - and sometimes serious - side effects, these events are rare.  No drug, or medicine, is 100% safe or benign - even common OTC medicines can cause harm (see NSAIDs & Heart Failure) -  but vaccines have an enviable safety record. 

The overwhelming evidence has been that COVID is not a trivial illness, and that while survival rates may approach 99%, a significant percentage of those suffer long term, sometimes permanent, disabilities (see JACC: Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A State-of-The Art Review).

While  those who are inclined to believe the anti-vaccine rhetoric are apt to dismiss any research to the contrary, we have a study - published yesterday in Nature - that finds that while there is a small increased  risk of neurological complications following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine (and even smaller following Pfizer-BioNtech), both are substantially lower than the rate following COVID infection

The full study is available online, but I've only posted the link and the Abstract, along with a link and excerpt from a summary of the study published by GAVI.  You'll also find a link to a Science Media Centre Expert's opinion page on this research. 


Emerging reports of rare neurological complications associated with COVID-19 infection and vaccinations are leading to regulatory, clinical and public health concerns. We undertook a self-controlled case series study to investigate hospital admissions from neurological complications in the 28 days after a first dose of ChAdOx1nCoV-19 (n = 20,417,752) or BNT162b2 (n = 12,134,782), and after a SARS-CoV-2-positive test (n = 2,005,280).

There was an increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome (incidence rate ratio (IRR), 2.90; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.15–3.92 at 15–21 days after vaccination) and Bell’s palsy (IRR, 1.29; 95% CI: 1.08–1.56 at 15–21 days) with ChAdOx1nCoV-19. There was an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (IRR, 1.38; 95% CI: 1.12–1.71 at 15–21 days) with BNT162b2. 

An independent Scottish cohort provided further support for the association between ChAdOx1nCoV and Guillain–Barré syndrome (IRR, 2.32; 95% CI: 1.08–5.02 at 1–28 days). 

There was a substantially higher risk of all neurological outcomes in the 28 days after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test including Guillain–Barré syndrome (IRR, 5.25; 95% CI: 3.00–9.18). Overall, we estimated 38 excess cases of Guillain–Barré syndrome per 10 million people receiving ChAdOx1nCoV-19 and 145 excess cases per 10 million people after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. 

In summary, although we find an increased risk of neurological complications in those who received COVID-19 vaccines, the risk of these complications is greater following a positive SARS-CoV-2 test.

(Continue . . . )


From GAVI.

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines and rare neurological complications

Reports of Guillain–Barré syndrome or other neurological complications following COVID-19 vaccination are understandably worrying, but the first study to robustly investigate such links has found that the risk is much greater after COVID-19 infection.

25 October 2021 – by Linda Geddes

And this from the Science Media Centre.  I've only selected one, of five, expert reactions to excerpt. Follow the link to read all of them in their entirety. 

Expert reaction to study looking at rare neurological complications after SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination
A study published in Nature Medicine looks at neurological complications after the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and after SARS-CoV-2 infection.
This Roundup accompanied an SMC Briefing.

Prof Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine, Imperial College London, said:
“In this study of 32 million people in the UK, neurological complications of COVID vaccination were compared with those seen in people who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
“There was a small increased risk of Guillain–Barré syndrome (a progressive but often reversible weakness, sometimes seen after viral infection or vaccination) or Bell’s palsy (facial weakness) 15–21 days after vaccination. However, these adverse events were dwarfed by the neurological disorders seen after testing positive for COVID: Guillain–Barré syndrome, myasthenia-like disease, subarachnoid haemorrhage, encephalitis, and Bell’s palsy were all quite common, especially in the first 2 weeks after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
“The authors estimate that there were 38 excess cases of Guillain–Barré syndrome per 10 million people given ChAdOx1nCoV-19, compared to 145 cases per 10 million after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
“The authors report an association between the Pfizer vaccine and haemorrhagic stroke – but this was only seen in one cohort, it wasn’t also found in the Scottish data, and it looks to me a very small signal and possibly not very significant.
“The neurological complications of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are much rarer than the neurological complications of COVID-19, showing the vital importance of getting vaccinated.”