Oct. 27, 2021 -- A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that people vaccinated against COVID-19 may have neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but that people who actually catch COVID have a much higher chance of having those conditions, the BBC reported.

“The risks of adverse neurological events following SARS-CoV-2 infection are much greater than those associated with vaccinations, highlighting the benefits of ongoing vaccination programs,” concluded the study published in Nature Medicine.

Researchers looked at National Health Service records of 32 million people to trace reactions to COVID vaccinations, the BBC said. The researchers looked at how people fared a month after their first dose of vaccine and a month after testing positive for COVID.

One of the reactions traced was Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurological disorder mostly found in people over 50. GBS usually shows up a few days or weeks after a cold, stomach virus, or the flu. In rare cases, surgery or different vaccinations can trigger it. Symptoms include muscle weakness, reflex loss, and numbness or tingling in parts of your body.

For vaccinated people, the study found 38 extra cases of GBS for every 10 million adults receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and 60 extra cases of hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed) for every 10 million adults receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the BBC said.

Among people who tested positive for COVID, researchers found 145 extra GBS cases per 10 million with a positive test, 123 extra brain inflammation disorder cases per 10 million people, and 163 extra cases of myasthenia-like disorders per 10 million people.

Brain inflammation cases included encephalitis meningitis and myelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord. Myasthenia-like disorders included immune conditions affecting the nerves and muscles.
A study of a smaller population in Scotland found the same link between GBS and the AstraZeneca vaccine but they didn’t find increased risks for people who received the Pfizer vaccine, the BBC said.

Show Sources

BBC. “Covid: Vaccine study links virus to rare neurological illness”

Nature Medicine. “Neurological complications after first dose of COVID-19 vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infection”

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