April 23, 2024

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Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): Is it a serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): Is it a serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?



Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): Is it a serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Previously reported in Australian media:

“Health expert Norman Swan from ABC admits that the COVID-19 vaccine can have serious side effects, but he believes the chances of these side effects are equivalent to ‘winning the lottery three times in a lifetime’. Swan expressed his views on the largest study published last week on the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Daily Mail reported that Swan said, ‘They found side effects that they did not anticipate, and these side effects did indeed show symptoms.’ However, Swan emphasized that the side effects observed in the 99 million recipients of the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca injections were ‘rare’.”


Guillain-Barré syndrome rises after receiving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Guillain-Barré syndrome rises after receiving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Scientists at University College London (UCL) have found in an analysis of NHS data that the first dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is linked to the severe neurological disease Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).There is an association between the small but significant rise in cases.


Such articles intentionally misuses actual studies that prove the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and do not discover new issues, falsely claiming that the vaccine can cause serious side effects that affect the nervous system.

There are many similar rumors, such as claims that an Australian expert admitted the serious side effects of the vaccine, which are similar in content. Therefore, I suspect that these public accounts and articles should have been fabricated.

These articles all emphasize the neurological side effects caused by vaccines, which sound particularly terrifying. What are they really talking about? In fact, they are referring to a disease called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a favorite focal point of many anti-vaccine rumors.

Today, let’s educate ourselves about Guillain-Barre Syndrome and whether it is really a serious side effect caused by vaccines.

The English name for Guillain-Barre Syndrome is Guillian-Barré; from the name of the disease, some people can probably guess that it is named after a French person. The earliest known description of the symptoms of Guillain-Barre was by a French doctor in 1859, but it was not until 1916 that two other French doctors diagnosed two soldiers and described the key pathological features, hence, the names of these two doctors were also used to name this disease.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is actually an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, leading to symptoms of nervous system damage. Guillain-Barre Syndrome has multiple clinical subtypes, with the classic symptom being ascending neuropathy, such as the initial symptoms of nerve damage in the legs, numbness, pain, etc., followed by the nerves in the upper body being affected.

The symptoms of nerve damage are not just minor issues like numbness. Since the muscles of the body are controlled by the nervous system, about a quarter of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients, as the affected nerves ascend, will experience respiratory muscle failure, losing the ability to breathe spontaneously, which is extremely dangerous. Therefore, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a very serious disease.

Fortunately, this is not a progressive disease. Most Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients start to improve 2-3 weeks after the onset of symptoms: by the third week, 90% of people have experienced or are at their weakest moment. However, there is a great deal of individual variation in the course of the disease and the recovery process, with some people recovering in a few weeks and others taking several years. Some people may even be left with lifelong nerve damage, resulting in sequelae, and some may die from Guillain-Barre Syndrome – the mortality rate is about 5%. However, even in severe cases, the vast majority of patients can eventually recover.


What causes Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

The most commonly mentioned cause online is vaccines, with almost any vaccine being associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in online rumors. However, in reality, the vast majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases are caused by gastrointestinal or respiratory tract diseases. About two-thirds of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients had the aforementioned diseases in the weeks before the onset of symptoms.

The number one culprit in causing Guillain-Barre Syndrome is Campylobacter jejuni, one of the four major pathogens of global diarrheal diseases. According to data from the CDC, for every one thousand people infected with Campylobacter, one will develop Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and 1-8 out of 20 Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients have recently been infected with Campylobacter. The rumors that the vaccine causes serious neurological side effects often overlook the much higher risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome from various viral infections.

Since the vast majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases are caused by diseases or infections, why are vaccines always being dragged into it? This is mainly due to the 1976 swine flu in the United States. The flu virus is a virus that likes to cross species, and the flu virus that crosses into humans due to the lack of immunity in the population poses a risk of a pandemic. Therefore, whenever such a sudden cross-species flu occurs, public health agencies are very cautious (which is why avian flu has long been a focus of monitoring).

This was the case with the 1976 swine flu, when the flu was detected in a military camp in the United States, causing 13 hospitalizations and 1 death. Considering that this could be the precursor to a pandemic, the US government quickly proposed a large-scale vaccination campaign for swine flu. The swine flu outbreak in the barracks occurred in January 1976, and by February, the director of the CDC had already suggested in a memo the need for large-scale vaccination. In March, then-President Ford officially announced the outbreak and proposed large-scale vaccination. By September, the first batch of swine flu vaccines had been approved by the FDA, and large-scale vaccination had begun.

However, things took a turn for the worse. Firstly, the swine flu did not become widespread, making the US government, which had called for large-scale vaccination against the swine flu early on, look like it was panicking for no reason. Secondly, just when the US government needed to explain the necessity of the large-scale vaccination campaign it had hastily launched, several states reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in people who had received the vaccine.

Finally, after 45 million people had been vaccinated, the United States halted the swine flu vaccine campaign. According to statistics, there were 362 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks of vaccination, which is equivalent to about 8.8 cases per million vaccinated. This was 8.8 times higher than the natural background, which is the number of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases expected per million people during the same period.

Due to the fact that the 1976 swine flu vaccine was an unprecedented negative example in large-scale immunization, the most notable serious adverse reaction of the vaccine – Guillain-Barre Syndrome – became the most famous adverse reaction of vaccines.

However, the 1976 swine flu vaccine was an exception. For example, the seasonal flu vaccine also has a record of a slight increase in the risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, with about 1 additional case per million people. The 2009 pandemic swine flu vaccine was also similar to the seasonal flu vaccine.

It is worth noting that, as mentioned earlier, viral infections can also cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In the case of the flu, the prevention of Guillain-Barre Syndrome caused by flu infections avoided by flu vaccination is higher than the risk caused by the vaccine. That is to say, even if we only consider Guillain-Barre Syndrome as a disease, the overall benefit of getting the flu vaccine outweighs

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): Is it a serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): Is it a serious side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/campylobacter/guillain-barre.html

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/guillain-barre-syndrome

https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/safety-availability-biologics/fda-requires-warning-about-guillain-barre-syndrome-gbs-be-included-prescribing-information-shingrix

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X24001270?via%3Dihub#t0015

(source:internet, reference only)


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