The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that the Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) COVID-19 vaccine may be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a relatively rare autoimmune disorder. Unfortunately for the confidence in the vaccine, this follows up on several other missteps and potential cardiovascular issues with the vaccine.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the COVID-19 vaccines’ benefits, preventing the disease, far exceed the extremely rare risks.
Because there is a lot of confusion about Guillain-Barré syndrome and whether there is a causal link to the JNJ vaccine, I will try to present the facts as they are known today. Of course, things change, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet on 22 July 2021 to further discuss this issue, so stay tuned for more information.
One of the arguments made by vaccine denialists is that vaccines cause significant increases in nervous disorders, and they point to the vaccine’s Package Insert (PI) as “proof”. Setting aside the misuse of the information in a PI, there seemed to be some evidence that there was a slight increase in the rates of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) following vaccinations, although the risk was far outweighed by the benefit of preventing deadly diseases. Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune disorder of the peripheral nervous system, where the immune system appears to attack nerves involved in movement, although sometimes it attacks respiration and other functions. Guillain-Barré syndrome is usually preceded by a viral or bacterial infection, such as the flu. It is a serious condition, which often takes several months for full recovery. About 80% of those who contract the disorder recover fully with treatment. Continue reading “No link between vaccines and Guillain-Barré Syndrome”