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COVID-19 Vaccination and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Statement from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee On COVID-19 Vaccination and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

There have been several questions raised regarding a potential link between the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 disease and the diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) in a resident of the Cayman Islands.   

A number of serious medical conditions have developed in people who have received vaccinations against COVID-19 disease in these islands, but it is exceedingly difficult to prove cause and effect as other issues may be involved with each individual patient. 

The good news is that these people are either fully recovered or are improving.  There have been a dozen of these cases, all of which have been recorded and some of which have been discussed with the UK Health Security Agency (formerly known as Public Health England). 

There is currently no evidence of a causative link between the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the diagnosis of GBS. 

As of 11 August 2021, in the UK there were 42 reports of GBS following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination. Over this time period, 21.0 million first doses and 24.7 million second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered. 

The UK Health Security Agency, in its guidance to healthcare professionals on the occurrence of GBS following COVID-19 vaccination, has noted that a causal link between COVID-19 vaccination and GBS has not been proven and there is no evidence of a higher rate of reporting of GBS following COVID-19 vaccination.

In fact, the number of cases in the UK reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) following vaccination are less than the number expected to occur by chance.

The annual incidence of GBS in the UK population is estimated at 2 per 100,000 per year with similar numbers in other western countries. In the USA, the incidence is similar and between 3,000 and 6,000 people develop GBS each year.

To date there have been no deaths in the Cayman Islands linked to the vaccine. It is continually encouraged that individuals talk with their healthcare provider about vaccination to ensure they have all the best information needed to educate themselves.

Source: Public Health England, Published 20 August 2021


Submitted by: Government Information Services (GIS, CIG)