Covid-19 more likely to cause neurological issues than vaccines, study finds

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Coronavirus is more likely to cause neurological complications in people than COVID-19 vaccines, a new study has shown.

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Researchers from the University of Oxford analyzed the health records of more than 32 million people in England and found that Guillain-Barré syndrome, Bell’s palsy and hemorrhagic stroke were associated with both infection and vaccination.

However, while the first dose of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines can lead to the development of an adverse neurological event soon after administration, infection with COVID-19 carries a far greater risk than any jab.


study, published in nature medicineIt is estimated that after testing positive for COVID-19, there were 38 additional cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome per 10 million people given the AstraZeneca vaccine, compared to 145 cases per 10 million.

Study co-author Dr Lahiru Handunethi said: “In our study of more than 32 million people, we found that several neurological complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, were associated with both COVID-19 infection and first-dose vaccination.

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“These neurological complications were very rare, but awareness of these will be important for patient care during large-scale vaccination programs around the world.”

Early vaccine clinical trials were not large enough to be able to detect very rare adverse neurological events – those occurring in less than one person in 10,000.

The Oxford study was able to achieve this by looking at real-world data from millions of health care records in England.

The authors also report an association between the Pfizer vaccine and hemorrhagic stroke, although experts not involved in the study have questioned the link because of the weakness of the data.

Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, said: “It was only seen in one group, it was not even found in the Scottish data, and it seems to me a very small indication and possibly not very significant.”

He added that other adverse events associated with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines “were dwarfed by neurological disorders seen after testing positive for COVID: Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia-like illness, subarachnoid hemorrhage, encephalitis and Bell’s palsy were all fairly common, Especially in the first two weeks after testing positive for Sars-CoV-2.

“The neurological complications of Sar-CoV-2 vaccines are much rarer than the neurological complications of COVID-19, indicating the critical importance of vaccination.”

Aziz Shaikh, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the paper, said: “A major strength of this study was that we were able to replicate the analysis in the Scotland national COVID-19 dataset.


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