Bell's Palsy Cases in Coronavirus Vaccine Users Raise Mild Concerns

Vaccine users experience higher rates but experts call this chance



Like everyone else, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we’ve raised a brow at the Bell’s Palsy cases developing among vaccine users in the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus clinical trials. It isn’t that the number of cases among vaccine users is unusual in the population. Anywhere from 12 to 25 per 100,000 people develop Bells Palsy in any year. But what doctors are concerned about is that the cases occurred largely within the vaccine users, and we know that Bell’s Palsy, a paralysis of the face that often dissipates after six months, develops among persons exposed to viruses.

The vaccinations do not contain the virus. But they do stimulate what is usually a very mild reaction similar to if the body were encountering the real virus. That is how vaccines work. Despite the recommendation, the agency said the rate of the condition in the vaccine trials is consistent with the background rate in the general population.

“Our working hypothesis is this just was an imbalance in background rates like we've seen in other trials, but we'll make sure that we're going to actually query for that just to bring that question to close,” Peter Marks, the director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told the Journal of the American Medical Association in an interview.

There were four cases in the Pfizer trial, all in vaccine recipients.

There were three in the Moderna trial, one in the placebo group.

“In general Bell's palsy is a response of your body to viral infection, So different viruses can trigger it," Dr. Kawsar Talaat told a media outlet. "With the exception of one vaccine that was never sold in the United States and taken off the market very, very quickly, there's never been any vaccines that have been shown to cause Bell's palsy…So I think that while Bell's palsy can happen in response to viruses, it's unlikely that it's going to happen in response to the COVID vaccine study.”

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