Brazil also reports Guillain-Barre cases after vaccination

Of the 34 cases, 27 are linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine

Published in 29/07/2021 - 15:03 By Agência Brasil - Brasília

Rare cases of the Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after vaccination against COVID-19 have been reported in a number of countries, including Brazil, the country’s national sanitary regulator Anvisa warned.

In a statement released Wednesday (Jul. 28), Anvisa says it has thus far received 27 notifications of suspected cases of GBS after immunization with vaccine AstraZeneca, in addition to three other cases with vaccine Janssen, and other four with CoronaVac, adding up to 34 occurrences.

Anvisa explains that the GBS is a neurological, self-immune disorder  in which the immunological system damages nerve cells. Post-vaccination episodes (adverse event) are also rare, but they have been known and linked to other vaccines, like that of influenza.

According to the agency, most people totally recover from the disorder. “The main risk caused by the syndrome is when respiratory muscles are compromised. In this last case, the GBS may lead to death, in case the appropriate measure are not taken,” the agency warned.

“It is important to highlight that Anvisa maintains the recommendation on the continuity of the vaccination with all vaccines against COVID-19 approved by the agency, in accordance with the guidelines listed in the package insert, since the benefits of the vaccines are thought to surpass risks,” the agency noted.

Faced with the reports on the rare post-vaccination adverse events, the watchdog requested that the firms tasked with the regularization of vaccines AstraZeneca, Janssen, and CoronaVac include information on possible GBS risks in the package insert.

Signs and symptoms

Most patients first notice the GBS through a numbing or burning sensation at the end of feet and later hands, Anvisa stated.

Another characteristic, the agency add, noticed in at least 50 percent of cases is neuropathic pain (caused by a lesion in the nervous system) in the lower back or legs. Progressive weakness is a more perceptive sign, which takes place in the following order: lower limbs, arms, torso, head, and neck.

Anvisa mentioned that vaccinated people should seek immediate medical care if they develop the signs and symptoms suggestive of GBS, which also include double vision or difficulty moving the eyes, difficulties swallowing, speaking, or chewing. “They should also be attentive to coordination and instability issues, difficulties walking, pins and needles on hands and feet, weak limbs, thorax, or face, in addition to problems with bladder control and intestinal problems,” the agency went on to say.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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