license photo” alt=”The incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome after COVID-19 vaccines was no higher than the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the general population, according to a new study. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | license photo“/>
A new study has found no evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations increase the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, researchers say.
“This is important because we can say that there is no significantly increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the population,” said study lead author Mustafa Jaffry, a medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in New Jersey. “This information can help ensure confidence in vaccines while approaching them from an objective, statistical analysis.”
In July 2021, after receiving initial reports of a possible link, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that people who receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine may be at higher risk, which is rare developing neurological disease that attacks the nerves and is sometimes fatal. Guillain-Barré syndrome is often caused by a bacterial infection, which can make it difficult to pinpoint the cause of the syndrome.
“The original reports were just that someone was vaccinated and a few weeks later developed Guillain-Barré syndrome,” Jaffry said in a Rutgers press release. “But they could have had an infection at that point that was unrelated to the vaccine.”
The researchers, led by Dr. Nizar Souayah, a professor of neurology at Rutgers, developed an artificial intelligence tool that allowed them to analyze information from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Patients and physicians report any adverse effects they have had from vaccines to this national database maintained by the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers wanted to find out if the vaccine posed a risk regardless of the brand. They also wanted to include other types of vaccines because there has long been evidence of a link between vaccines and the syndrome.
“It’s a burning question in medicine,” Jaffry noted.
The researchers divided the data into three time periods: they used the pre-pandemic period and the interval before the vaccines were created as “control” periods, which they could compare to after the vaccines were made public.
The team calculated how many vaccines were given in each period.
The analysis also included negative reports of influenza, HPV, meningitis and pneumonia vaccines.
The researchers assigned each case of Guillain-Barré syndrome a score that indicated the likelihood that it was a genuine diagnosis.
“The primary observation is that we found that while there were more reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome following COVID-19 vaccines compared to other vaccines, this rate was no higher than the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome syndrome in the general population,” Souayah said in the release.
“The meaning of this statement is this: The COVID vaccine is not statistically associated with an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome,” he said.
Rutgers researchers plan to explore other possible links between vaccines and disease.
The results were recently published in the journal Vaccine.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
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