Covid Poses Bigger Risk of Brain Conditions Than Vaccines, Study Says
(Bloomberg) -- Covid-19 is more likely to cause rare neurological conditions than vaccines, according to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal.
The study, led by the University of Oxford, analyzed the health records of 32 million people in England to identify the risks of developing rare brain conditions before and after testing positive for Covid, or receiving the first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc or Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE jabs.
The researchers compared how often neurological complications occurred in set windows of time. While the vaccines were found to result in an increase of neurological complications, like Bell’s palsy and Guillain-Barré syndrome, the study found that contracting Covid presented an even bigger risk.
Rare cases of such complications led many countries to restrict the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to older age groups.
“We found different risks for different types of neurological condition, depending on which vaccine people received,” said Martina Patone, co-author of the study. “However, these were substantially lower than the risks occurring in association with a positive Covid-19 PCR test.”
There were, however, several limitations to the study. For example, only risks associated with the first dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were examined as data from second doses were limited at the time of the study.
“The Covid-19 vaccines are very effective at reducing risks of severe outcomes from Covid-19 infection,” said study co-author Julia Hippisley-Cox.
U.K. regulators added Guillain-Barré syndrome to the list of rare side effects from the Astra vaccine last week.
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