- Guillain-Barré syndrome can cause paralysis and leave patients in crippling pain
- A study has suggested that in rare cases the condition has been linked to covid
- Virus can sometimes cause debilitating condition, authors say
A study has claimed that COVID may be an occasional trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
Auto-immune diseases, which can leave patients paralyzed and in crippling pain, have also been linked to coronavirus vaccines in extremely rare cases.
The coronavirus is not listed by the National Health Service as a known trigger of the condition, even though other infections have been named.
But research from patients with GBS in China, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK suggests there is a link between infection and the condition.
The study authors emphasized that a strong association with GBS and COVID is unlikely.
However, the team from the University of Rotterdam claimed that a handful of infected people can develop the condition due to the virus.
It did not rate how rare the condition is post-Covid – but it is thought to strike only one in 10,000 people who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The study, published in the journal Brain, analyzed the profiles of 49 GBS patients who were killed between January and May last year.
This condition, which can be triggered by the flu and glandular fever, impairs the immune system and begins to attack nerve cells.
A study has claimed that COVID may be an occasional trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Image: Father-of-three William Marsh, 57, was paralyzed from the condition last year but is not believed to be one of 22 victims who had previously had COVID
What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder in which the immune system overreacts and the body attacks its own nerves.
Common symptoms of the rare condition include weakness and tingling in the limbs.
As patients’ condition worsens, it can lead to paralysis of parts of the body – or in some cases the whole body.
The syndrome is rare, affecting one in 100,000 annually in the UK and US.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, fewer than 20,000 cases are diagnosed per year in the US.
Doctors say it is often triggered by a viral or bacterial illness, such as Campylobacter jejuni.
there is no cure. Treatment focuses on restoring the nervous system.
It can be fatal if it involves the respiratory muscles.
Most people who suffer from the condition make a full recovery but one in five may be left with long-term problems such as difficulty walking. In rare cases, it can kill.
The study showed that 22 percent of GBS patients – or 11 of them – were infected with the virus.
All these patients were over 50 and most suffered from facial paralysis – weakness of the facial muscles.
All patients met the diagnostic criteria for both Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID.
But the researchers said that despite the start of the epidemic, they did not find a higher number of GBS patients during the time of year than in previous years.
Neurologist Dr Bart Jacobs, lead author of the study, said: ‘Our study suggests that COVID may, in rare cases, precede Guillain-Barré syndrome.
But he added: ‘The existence of a true linkage or causal relationship still needs to be established.’
The EU health watchdog said that AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine could trigger GBS in ‘very rare’ cases.
The European Medicines Agency said earlier this month that there have been 833 cases of GBS worldwide, of which 59.2 million have been dosed.
It concluded that the overall risk of suffering from the syndrome after vaccination with a UK-made jab was less than one in 10,000.
Experts emphasize that the risk of serious illness or long-term complications from COVID infection is very high, and vaccination is still the best option.
The EMA said they consider it ‘at least a reasonable possibility’ that the Guillain-Barré Oxford-made jab has a side effect.
The regulator has already listed the status of a single-shot dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which uses technology similar to the AZ jab.
There have been 393 cases in the UK following vaccination with the jab, but watchdogs are not certain if the condition is occurring more frequently than usual.
The European Medicines Agency earlier this month reported 833 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome from 592 million doses worldwide today. It was found that the overall risk of suffering from the syndrome after vaccination with AstraZeneca was less than one in 10,000
The graph above shows the number of Guillain-Barré cases detected in the UK following the introduction of the COVID vaccine. UK medical regulator MHRA said it has not been able to ‘confirm or deny’ a possible link between AstraZeneca’s jab and the condition.