COVID-19 vaccine adverse events: Separating the signal from the noise

Image by Spencer Davis from Pixabay

In the U.S., more than 125 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While most vaccine recipients tend to have relatively minor and fleeting adverse events from the shots, many people continue to worry about side effects.

According to a recent survey from the physician social network Sermo found that 72% of physicians reported that their patients continue to be concerned about vaccine side effects. Almost 30% of physicians surveyed have encountered patients who have skipped their second dose over adverse event concerns.

Scientific rigor and solid epidemiology are needed to improve our understanding of vaccine safety, according to Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer, a Switzerland-based expert on infectious diseases and vaccine safety who is the founder of the non-profit foundation Heart Based Medicine.

“We need to formulate the right questions to provide th…

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Is there a link between Bell’s palsy and COVID-19 vaccines?

Image from Nataliya Vaitkevich via Pexels

One adverse event common to clinical trials for currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines is Bell’s palsy, an asymmetrical weakness or paralysis of the face that is often temporary.

Two vaccine recipients in the Johnson & Johnson Phase 3 clinical trial developed Bell’s palsy, as did two people in the placebo group. Another patient developed facial swelling and “droopiness” without facial asymmetry. A clinical trial investigator concluded that this event was unrelated to the vaccine.

Three vaccine recipients in the Moderna Phase 3 clinical trial developed Bell’s palsy, as did one in the placebo group. In the corresponding Pfizer-BioNTech study, four vaccine recipients developed Bell’s palsy, but no participants in the placebo group did.

The three Phase clinical trials involved some 30,000 to 40,000 volunteers.

The numerical imbalance between the …

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