A study based on anonymised health records from over 8 million people in the UK and Spain found no evidence of a link between COVID-19 vaccines and 3 neurological disorders (Guillain-Barré, Bell’s palsy and encephalomyelitis). However, there was an increased risk of these disorders, seen in people who had a COVID-19 infection.
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Does the COVID-19 vaccination affect the nervous system?
Huge national and international COVID-19 vaccination programmes started as early as December 2020 with nearly 10 billion doses given (up to January 2022). Public concern had been raised about the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines given that previously medical trials may take many years before a drug/device is licensed for use in humans. This has led to questioning if side effects are increased and in particular if these vaccines may affect the nervous system.
Previous research into any increased risk of neurological disorders following COVID-19 vaccination had produced differing results.
A European Health Data Evidence Network study analysed records from over 8 million people from the UK and Spain. The aim was to identify any relationships between COVID-19 vaccines, infection with SARS CoC 2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and 4 nervous system disorders:
- Guillain-Barré syndrom
- Bell’s palsy (facial weakness)
- Encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord)
- Transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)
The research did not find any clear connection between COVID-19 vaccines and Guillain-Barré, Bell’s palsy and encephalomyelitis. However, people who had the illness caused by COVID-19 were at an increased risk of three of those four neurological disorders.