Scientists have drawn a link between the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and a “spike” in cases of a rare disease that can leave its victims paralysed.
Three separate studies reported an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) shortly after the roll out of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
GBS is a potentially deadly condition in which a person’s immune system attacks their nerves and gradually paralyses victims from the feet upwards. While most patients recover, it can be life-threatening or permanently debilitating.
Two of the studies looked at rates of GBS in England and said there was an increase in cases “attributable to” the AstraZeneca vaccine, or that there was a probable “causal link”.
The Telegraph has spoken to several people who developed GBS after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, and have become severely disabled as a result.
Two of the individuals have been awarded payments through the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme but the third has been refused compensation on the basis that he is not “60 percent disabled” – the threshold for a pay-out.
On Friday, one of the victims spoke of his “anger” that he had the AstraZeneca jab without knowing that it posed such a risk.
‘Side effects ignored’
Anthony Shingler said: “It feels like the side effects were either missed or ignored.”
In one of the studies, researchers studied NHS data and found that the rate of GBS was lower than usual for most of the pandemic – but that it shot up to well above normal levels in March and April 2021 – after the AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out had got under way.
More than a quarter of people who developed GBS in England in the first 10 months of 2021 did so within six weeks of having the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to the paper by scientists at University College London and researchers at the UK’s medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The researchers stressed that the risk of GBS was “very small” in proportion to the benefits that Covid vaccines offered. For every million doses of the jab that were administered, there were less than six extra cases of GBS, according to the study.
However, the scale of the vaccination programme meant that by July 8 2021, there were between 98 and 140 “excess” cases of GBS in England that researchers said could be “attributable to” the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The authors of the paper, titled Covid-19 vaccination and Guillain-Barre syndrome: analyses using the National Immunoglobulin Database, compared the rate of GBS linked to the AstraZeneca jab to the rate linked to the swine flu jab, which became a huge controversy in America in the 1970s.
The US government ended up having to halt the swine flu vaccination programme, when less than a fifth of the population had been jabbed, after 500 Americans developed GBS and 25 died of it.
At the same time, the vaccine did not offer the sorts of benefits as the Covid vaccines because the swine flu pandemic that many scientists had predicted did not materialise as expected.