Clinicians urged to spot Guillain-Barre syndrome after COVID-19 vaccines

Clinicians urged to spot Guillain-Barre syndrome after COVID-19 vaccines
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Clinicians have urged for vigilance in looking for the rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome in individuals following COVID-19 vaccination.

Clinicians in India and England have reported cases of a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome after individuals were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Seven cases were reported from a regional medical centre in Kerala, India, where around 1.2 million people were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. A further four cases were reported from Nottingham, England, in an area in which approximately 700,000 people received the same vaccine.

The clinicians have made the call in two separate articles in the Annals of Neurology.

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Both reports describe an unusual variant of Guillain-Barre syndrome which is characterised by prominent facial weakness. All eleven cases were among people who had received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine 10 to 22 days earlier.

The authors say that the frequency of Guillain-Barre syndrome in these areas was estimated to be up to 10 times greater than expected.

The authors of the report from England wrote: “If the link is causal it could be due to a cross-reactive immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and components of the peripheral immune system.”

In the communication, ‘Guillain-Barré syndrome following ChAdOx1-S/nCoV-19 vaccine’, it states: “As of April 22, 2021, around 1.5 million individuals in three districts of Kerala, India, had been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines. Over 80% of these individuals (1.2 million) received the ChAdOx1-S/nCoV-19 vaccine. In this population, during this period of four weeks (mid-March to mid-April 2021), we observed seven cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) that occurred within two weeks of the first dose of vaccination.

“All seven patients developed severe GBS. The frequency of GBS was 1.4 to 10-fold higher than that expected in this period for a population of this magnitude. In addition, the frequency of bilateral facial weakness, which typically occurs in less than 20% of GBS cases, suggests a pattern associated with the vaccination.

“While the benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh the risk of this relatively rare outcome (5.8 per million), clinicians should be alert to this possible adverse event, as six out of seven patients progressed to areflexic quadriplegia and required mechanical ventilatory support.”

The authors of both articles stress that clinicians should be vigilant in looking for this rare neurological syndrome following administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

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  1. I am a 60 year old female from the UK, I have recently been diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, I have had both doses of Astra Zeneca, symptoms started 2 weeks following the second dose

    • I am 53 year old man from UK, diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, onset of symtoms 10 days after AstraZeneca first dose?


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