A new study out of Europe has revealed that cases of heart inflammation that required hospitalization were much more common among vaccinated individuals compared to the unvaccinated.
A team of researchers from health agencies in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway found that rates of myocarditis and pericarditis, two forms of potentially life-threatening heart inflammation, were higher in those who had received one or two doses of either mRNA-based vaccine – Pfizer’s or Moderna’s.
In all, researchers studied a total of 23.1 million records on individuals aged 12 or older between December 2020 and October 2021. In addition to the increased rate overall, the massive study confirmed the chances of developing the heart condition increased with a second dose, which mirrors other data that has been uncovered in recent months.
“Results of this large cohort study indicated that both first and second doses of mRNA vaccines were associated with increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. For individuals receiving 2 doses of the same vaccine, risk of myocarditis was highest among young males (aged 16-24 years) after the second dose. These findings are compatible with between 4 and 7 excess events in 28 days per 100 000 vaccinees after BNT162b2, and between 9 and 28 excess events per 100 000 vaccinees after mRNA-1273.
The risks of myocarditis and pericarditis were highest within the first 7 days of being vaccinated, were increased for all combinations of mRNA vaccines, and were more pronounced after the second dose.”
Also mirroring other data, the study confirmed that young people, especially young males, are the ones who are suffering the worst effects of the experimental jab. Young men, aged 16-24 were an astounding 5-15X more likely to be hospitalized with heart inflammation than their unvaccinated peers.
But it isn’t just young men, all age groups across both sexes – except for men over 40 and girls aged 12-15 – experienced a higher rate of heart inflammation post-vaccination when compared to the unvaxxed.
From The Epoch Times, who spoke with one of the study’s main researchers, Dr. Rickard Ljung:
“‘These extra cases among men aged 16–24 correspond to a 5 times increased risk after Comirnaty and 15 times increased risk after Spikevax compared to unvaccinated,’ Dr. Rickard Ljung, a professor and physician at the Swedish Medical Products Agency and one of the principal investigators of the study, told The Epoch Times in an email.
Comirnaty is the brand name for Pfizer’s vaccine while Spikevax is the brand name for Moderna’s jab.
Rates were also higher among the age group for those who received any dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, both of which utilize mRNA technology. And rates were elevated among vaccinated males of all ages after the first or second dose, except for the first dose of Moderna’s shot for those 40 or older, and females 12- to 15-years-old.”
Although the peer-reviewed study found a direct link between mRNA based vaccines and increased incident rate of heart inflammation, the researchers claimed that the “benefits” of the experimental vaccines still “outweigh the risks of side effects,” because cases of heart inflammation are “very rare,” in a press conference about their findings earlier this month.
However, while overall case numbers may be low in comparison to the raw numbers and thus technically “very rare,” the rate at which individuals are developing this serious condition has increased by a whopping amount. When considering the fact that 5-15X more, otherwise healthy, young men will come down with the condition – especially since the chances of Covid-19 killing them at that age are effectively zero (99.995% recovery rate) – it’s downright criminal for governments across the world to continue pushing mass vaccinations for everyone.
Dr. Peter McCullough, a world-renowned Cardiologist who has been warning about the long-term horror show that is vaccine-induced myocarditis in young people, certainly thinks so. In his expert opinion, the study does anything but give confidence that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. In “no way” is that the case, he says. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
“In cardiology we spend our entire career trying to save every bit of heart muscle. We put in stents, we do heart catheterization, we do stress tests, we do CT angiograms. The whole game of cardiology is to preserve heart muscle. Under no circumstances would we accept a vaccine that causes even one person to stay sustain heart damage. Not one. And this idea that ‘oh, we’re going to ask a large number of people to sustain heart damage for some other theoretical benefit for a viral infection,’ which for most is less than a common cold, is untenable. The benefits of the vaccines in no way outweigh the risks.”
It’s also worth pointing out that the new study’s findings could be an indicator as to what is driving the massive spike in the excess death rates in the United States and across the world. Correlating exactly with the rollout of the experimental mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, people have been dying at record-breaking rates, especially millennials, who experienced a jaw-dropping 84% increase in excess deaths (compared to pre-pandemic) in the final four months of 2021.
Operation Warp Speed brought to market in the United States two mRNA vaccines, produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Interim data suggested high efficacy for both of these vaccines, which helped legitimize Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. However, the exceptionally rapid movement of these vaccines through controlled trials and into mass deployment raises multiple safety concerns. In this review we first describe the technology underlying these vaccines in detail. We then review both components of and the intended biological response to these vaccines, including production of the spike protein itself, and their potential relationship to a wide range of both acute and long-term induced pathologies, such as blood disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and autoimmune diseases. Among these potential induced pathologies, we discuss the relevance of prion-protein-related amino acid sequences within the spike protein. We also present a brief review of studies supporting the potential for spike protein “shedding”, transmission of the protein from a vaccinated to an unvaccinated person, resulting in symptoms induced in the latter. We finish by addressing a common point of debate, namely, whether or not these vaccines could modify the DNA of those receiving the vaccination. While there are no studies demonstrating definitively that this is happening, we provide a plausible scenario, supported by previously established pathways for transformation and transport of genetic material, whereby injected mRNA could ultimately be incorporated into germ cell DNA for transgenerational transmission. We conclude with our recommendations regarding surveillance that will help to clarify the long-term effects of these experimental drugs and allow us to better assess the true risk/benefit ratio of these novel technologies.
Pivotal randomized control trials (RCTs) underpinning approval of Covid-19 vaccines did not set out to, and did not, test if the vaccines prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.Nor did the trials test if the vaccines reduce mortality risk. A review of seven phase III trials, including those for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, found the criterion the vaccines were trialled against was just reduced risk of Covid-19 symptoms.
There should be no secret about these facts, as they were discussed in August 2020 in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal); one of the oldest and most widely cited medical journals in the world. Moreover, this was not an isolated article, as the editor-in-chief also gave her own summary of the vaccine-testing situation, which has proved very prescient:
“…we are heading for vaccines that reduce severity of illness rather than protect against infection [and] provide only short-lived immunity, … as well as damaging public confidence and wasting global resources by distributing a poorly effective vaccine, this could change what we understand a vaccine to be. Instead of long-term, effective disease prevention it could become a suboptimal chronic treatment.”It was not just the BMJ covering these features of the RCTs. When health bureaucrats Rochelle Walensky, Henry Walke and Anthony Fauci claimed (in the Journal of the American Medical Association)that “clinical trials have shown that the vaccines authorized for use in the US are highly effective against Covid-19 infection, severe illness and death” this was felt sufficiently false that the journal published a comment simply titled “Inaccurate Statement.”
The basis of the comment was that the primary endpoint for the RCTs was symptoms of Covid-19; a less exacting standard than testing to show efficacy against infection, severe illness, and death.
Yet these aspects of the vaccine trials discussed in medical journals are largely unknown by the general public. To measure public understanding of the Covid-19 vaccine trials I added a question about the vaccine testing to an ongoing nationally representative survey of adult New Zealanders.
While not top-of-mind for most readers, New Zealand is a useful place for finding out about public understanding of the vaccine trials. Until recently, when a few doses of AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines were allowed, it was 100% Pfizer, making it easy to word the survey question very specifically about the Pfizer vaccine trials.
Also, New Zealanders were vaccinated in a very short period, just prior to the survey. In late August 2021 New Zealand was last in the OECD in dosing rates but by December, when the survey was fielded, it had jumped into the top half of the OECD, with vaccinations rising by an average of 110 doses per 100 people in just over three months.
This rapid rise in vaccination was partly driven by mandates, for health, education, police, and emergency workers and also by a vaccine passport system that blocked the unvaccinated from most places. The mandates were strictly applied, and even people suffering adverse reactions after their first shot, such as Bell’s Palsy and pericarditis, still had to get the second shot. The vaccine passport law had gone through Parliament just prior to the survey, so the vaccines, and what was expected of them, should have been utmost in peoples’ minds.
The other relevant factor about New Zealand is the government-dominated media, which is either publicly funded, or is heavily subsidized by a “public interest journalism fund” and by generous government advertising of the Covid-19 vaccines. Also, supposedly independent commentators prominent in the media got their talking points about the vaccines from the government in a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign.
Thus, it was mainly overseas journalists who expressed concern when New Zealand’s Prime Minister made the Orwellian claim that in matters of Covid-19 and vaccines: “Dismiss anything else, we will continue to be your single source of truth.”
Yet a government-controlled media and a vaccine advertising blitz yielded widespread public misunderstanding about the testing the vaccines underwent in pivotal trials. The survey asked if the Pfizer vaccine had been trialled against: (a) preventing infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, or (b) reducing risk of getting symptoms of Covid-19, or (c) reducing risk of getting serious sick or dying, or (d) all of the above. The correct answer is (b), the trials only set out to test if the vaccines reduced the risk of getting Covid-19 symptoms.
Only four percent of respondents got the right answer. In other words, 96 percent of adult New Zealanders thought the Covid-19 vaccines were tested against more demanding criteria than is actually the case.
Currently, most Covid-19 cases in New Zealand are post-vaccination. And despite almost everyone being vaccinated, and most boosted, the rate of new confirmed Covid-19 cases is one of the highest in the world. As people see with their own eyes that one can still get infected they may question what they have been led to (mis)understand about the vaccines.
Elsewhere it is noted that vaccine fanaticism—especially denying natural immunity—fuels vaccine scepticism. As people see that public health authorities lied about natural immunity they will wonder if they also lied about vaccine efficacy. Likewise, as they realise they were given a misleading impression about what the vaccines were trialled against they might doubt other claims about vaccines.
In particular, by believing the vaccines were tested against more demanding criteria than was actually so, public expectations of what vaccination would achieve were likely too high. As the public witnesses a failure of mass vaccination to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections, and a failure to reduce overall mortality, scepticism about these and other vaccines will grow.
In New Zealand this issue is exacerbated by the Prime Minister creating a false equivalence between Covid-19 vaccines and measles vaccines. Currently the paediatric vaccination rate (which includes the measles vaccine) for indigenous Maori has dropped 12 percentage points in two years and 0.3 million measles vaccines had to be discarded after expiring due to lack of demand. The advertising for Covid-19 vaccines particularly targets Maori, with claims that boosters will protect them against Omicron. The progress of infections is likely to prove this claim to be largely untrue, and so Maori are likely to be even more sceptical about future vaccination, even for vaccines that truly can be described as ‘safe and effective.’
If politicians and health bureaucrats had been honest with the public, setting out the criteria the Covid-19 vaccines were trialed against, and what could and could not be expected of the vaccines, then this widespread misunderstanding need not have occurred. Instead, their lack of honesty is likely to damage future vaccination efforts and harm public health.
Authors: Luís Lourenço Graça ,1 Maria João Amaral ,2 Marco Serôdio,3 Beatriz Costa2
SUMMARY A 62-year-old Caucasian female patient presented with abdominal pain, vomiting and fever 1 day after administration of COVID-19 vaccine. Bloodwork revealed anaemia and thrombocytosis. Abdominal CT angiography showed a mural thrombus at the emergence of the coeliac trunk, hepatic and splenic arteries, and extensive thrombosis of the superior and inferior mesenteric veins, splenic and portal veins, and the inferior vena cava, extending to the left common iliac vein. The spleen displayed extensive areas of infarction. Etiological investigation included assessment of congenital coagulation disorders and acquired causes with no relevant findings. Administration of COVID-19 vaccine was considered a possible cause of the extensive multifocal thrombosis. After reviewing relevant literature, it was considered that other causes of this event should be further investigated. Thrombosis associated with COVID-19vaccine is rare and an etiological relationship should only be considered in the appropriate context and after investigation of other, more frequent, causes.
BACKGROUND During the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry is under immense pressure to develop effective and safe vaccines, and as such clinical trials have been expedited in order to make them available to help fight this health crisis. In this context, timely communication between healthcare institutions and regulatory entities is especially important. Reports of thrombosis due to administration of these vaccines have been causing an important discussion in the scientific community as well as social alarm. However, it is important to note that this is a rare complication and more frequent causes of extensive arterial and venous thrombosis should be considered and investigated.1
CASE PRESENTATION A 62-year-old Caucasian female patient, with personal history of obesity (body mass index of 30kg/m2), asthma and rhinitis, presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever (38°C) 1day after administration of the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine(from AstraZeneca). On physical examination, she presented epigastric and left iliac fossa tenderness as the only abnormal finding. The patient denied recent epistaxis and gastrointestinal or genitourinary blood loss.
INVESTIGATIONS Blood tests revealed microcytic hypochromic anemia (hemoglobin 7g/L), thrombocytosis (780×109/L),increased levels of inflammatory parameters (leucocytes 13×109/L; C reactive protein 31.07mg/dL) and slightly increased levels of liver enzymes and function (AST 36, ALP 126U/L, GGT 72U/L, LDH 441U/L, total bilirubin 1.3mg/dL, direct bilirubin 0.5mg/dL). The patient was tested for COVID-19 with nasopharyngeal PCR tests at admission and on the fifth day of hospitalization. Both tests were negative. Abdominal CT angiography (CTA) showed a mural thrombus at the emergence of the coeliac trunk, with total occlusion (figure 1), as well as at the hepatic and splenic arteries. There was also extensive thrombosis of the superior and inferior mesenteric veins and its tributaries, splenic and portal veins, including the splenoportal confluent (figure 2). There was a filiform thrombus at the distal portion of the inferior vena cava, extending to the left common iliac vein, non-occlusive (figure 3). Spleen presented extensive areas of infarction (figure 1). Coeliac trunk occlusion due to paradoxical embolism was excluded by transthoracic echocardiogram. No interatrial communication was detected. Re-evaluation CTA 5days after the diagnosis was identical. Etiological investigation included assessment of congenital coagulation disorders and acquired causes. Regarding congenital disorders, personal and family history of important thrombotic events, thrombosis in unusual sites and abortions were assessed with no relevant findings. Molecular testing for factor V Leiden mutation and prothrombin gene20210 G/A mutation were both negative. Acquired causes of a coagulation disorder, such as neoplastic, infectious and autoimmune disorders, like antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), were also investigated. Thorax, abdomen, pelvic and brain CT did not detect any suspicious lesions. Tumor biomarkers—carcinoembryonic antigen, alpha fetoprotein, carbohydrate antigen 19-9, cancer antigen 125, cancer antigen 15-3, neuron-specific enolase and chromogranin A—were negative. The patient refused to undergo upper digestive endoscopy and colonoscopy. Despite increased levels of inflammatory parameters at admission (leukocytosis and C reactive protein), these values decreased during the hospitalization period. Blood and urine cultures were also negative. Anticardiolipin IgG and IgM and antibeta-2-glycoprotein IgG and IgM were negative, excluding APS.
DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS In the presence of venous and arterial thrombosis, the etiological investigation should include
assessment of congenital and acquired coagulation disorders, as well as the presence of interatrial communication that could explain the coeliac trunk occlusion due to paradoxical embolism. As previously stated, these etiological factors were assessed with no specific findings, with the exception of digestive endoscopic study, which was refused by the patient. In this context, and given the fact that the presentation took place 1day after administration of the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, we hypothesize that the vaccine might be the cause of the extensive arterial and venous thrombosis. This case was immediately reported to INFARMED, the Portuguese authority for drugs and health products. Vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) was also considered a differential diagnosis. However, the patient did not present with thrombocytopenia, which is a key criteria for VITT, and therefore the presence of this syndrome was unlikely.COVID-19 tests at admission and on the fifth day of hospitalization were negative; however, she was not tested prior to the onset of the event and therefore it was not possible to exclude
recent COVID-19 infection, which may predispose to thrombosis, even during the convalescent phase. TREATMENT At presentation, there were no signs of organ ischemia that required revascularization procedure or intestinal resection. Considering the anemia, the patient was not a candidate for fibrinolysis. The treatment was empiric endovenous antibiotherapy and transfusion of two units of red blood cells. Anticoagulation with low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) 1mg/kg two times per day was initiated and maintained during hospitalisation, with monitoring of anti-Xa levels. After hospitalization,in an outpatient setting, the patient was initiated on edoxaban.
OUTCOME AND FOLLOW-UP Re-evaluation CTA 28 days after presentation revealed a portal vein with a filiform caliber, with a cavernomatous transformation. There was only permeability of the left branch of the portal vein, with venous collateralization in the hepatic hilum. Coeliac trunk was still occluded, with permeability of the gastroduodenal artery and the right hepatic artery, and apparent occlusion at the emergence of the left hepatic artery, although with distal repermeabilisation. Partial thrombus persisted in the lumen of the left common iliac vein and inferior infrarenal vena cava. At the follow-up consultation, 1month after discharge, the patient was clinically asymptomatic.
DISCUSSION Venous and arterial thrombotic disorders have long been considered separate pathophysiological entities due to their anatomical differences and distinct clinical presentations. In particular, arterial thrombosis is seen largely as a phenomenon of platelet activation, whereas venous thrombosis is mostly a matter of activation of the clotting system.2 There is increasing evidence regarding a link between venous and arterial thromboses. These two vascular complications share several risk factors, such as age, obesity, diabetes mellitus, blood Figure 1 CT angiography arterial phase, axial image: a mural thrombus is observed at the coeliac trunk emergence, with total occlusion. Splenic parenchyma without enhancement after contrast administration can also be observed, translating to extensive infarct areas. Figure 2 CT angiography portal phase, coronal image: portal vein thrombosis (A) extending to the splenoportal confluent (B) can be observed. Figure 3 CT angiography portal phase, coronal image: a non-occlusive filiform thrombus at the distal portion of the inferior vena cava can be observed, extending to the left common iliac vein. on April 13, 2022 by guest. Protected by copyright. http://casereports.bmj.com/ BMJ Case Rep: first published as 10.1136/bcr-2021-244878 on 16 August 2021. Downloaded from Graça LL, et al. BMJ Case Rep 2021;14:e244878. doi:10.1136/bcr-2021-244878 3
Case report hypertension, hypertriglyceridaemia and metabolic syndrome.3 Moreover, there are many examples of conditions accounting for both venous and arterial thromboses, such as APS, hyperhomocysteinaemia, malignancies, infections and use of hormonal treatment.3 In this case, in accordance with the literature, the patient is 62 years old and obese, with no other findings. Hyperhomocysteinaemia and digestive tract malignancies were not excluded. Recent studies have shown that patients with venous thromboembolism are at a higher risk of arterial thrombotic complications than matched control individuals. Therefore, it is speculated that the two vascular complications may be simultaneously triggered by biological stimuli responsible for activating coagulation and inflammatory pathways in both the arterial and the venous system.3 The modified adenovirus vector COVID-19 vaccines (ChAdOx1nCoV-19 by Oxford/AstraZeneca and Ad26.COV2.S by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) and mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines(BNT162b2 mRNA by Pfizer/BioNTech and mRNA-1273 by Moderna) have shown both safety and efficacy against COVID-19 in phase III clinical trials and are now being used in global vaccination programmes.4Rare cases of postvaccine-associated cerebral venous thrombosis(CVT) from use of COVID-19 vaccines which use a viral vector, including the mechanism of VITT, have emerged in real-worldvaccination.4 On the other hand, the incidence and pathogenesis of CVT after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines remain unknown. However Fan et al4 presented three cases and Dias et al5reported two cases of CVT in patients who took an mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2 mRNA by Pfizer/BioNTech). In both cases, causality has not been proven. In a recent editorial, three independent descriptions of persons with a newly described syndrome, VITT, were highlighted, characterized by thrombosis and thrombocytopenia that developed 5–24 days after initial vaccination with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca), a recombinant adenoviral vector encoding the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.6VITT is also characterized by the presence of CVT, thrombosis in the portal, splanchnic and hepatic veins, as well as acute arterial thromboses, platelet counts of 20–30×109 /L, high levels of D-dimers and low levels of fibrinogen, suggesting systemic activation of coagulation.6 In our case, similarities were found with VITT regarding thrombosis in the portal, splanchnic and hepatic veins, as well as acute arterial thromboses and high levels of D-dimers. On the other hand, timing of the event (1day after vaccination), high levels of fibrinogen and absence of thrombocytopenia, which is a key criteria for VITT, point to a different direction. Moreover, the presence of thrombocytosis allowed for a safe use of LMWH for anticoagulation, with monitoring of anti-Xa levels. Most of the cases reported so far of venous and arterial thrombosis as a complication of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine have occurred in women under the age of 60 years, associated with thrombocytopenia, within 2weeks of receiving their first dose of the vaccine.7As for the mechanism, it is thought that the vaccine may trigger an immune response leading to an atypical heparin-induced thrombocytopenia-like disorder. In contrast with the literature, our patient presented with thrombocytosis, not thrombocytopaenia.7 Smadja et al8reported that between 13 December 2020 and 16 March 2021 (94 days), 361734967 people in the international COVID-19 vaccination data set received vaccination and795 venous and 1374 arterial thrombotic events were reported in Vigibase on 16 March 2021. Spontaneous reports of thrombotic events are shared in 1197 for Pfizer/BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine,325 for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and 639 for AstraZeneca’sCOVID-19 vaccine.7 The reporting rate for cases of venous (VTE) and arterial (ATE) thrombotic events during this time period among the total number of people vaccinated was 0.21 cases of thrombotic events per 1million person vaccinated-days.7For VTE and ATE, the rates were 0.075 and 0.13 cases per 1million persons vaccinated, respectively, and the timeframe between vaccinationand ATE is the same for the three vaccines (median of 2days), although a significant difference in terms of VTE was identified between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine (median of 6days) and both mRNA vaccines (median of 4days).8 The first paper addressing this issue was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and described 11 patients, 9 of themwomen.9 Nine patients had cerebral venous thrombosis, three had splanchnic vein thrombosis, three had pulmonary embolism and four had other thromboses. All 11 patients, as well as another 17 for whom the researchers had blood samples, tested positive for antibodies against platelet factor 4 (PF4). These antibodies are also observed in people who develop heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. However, none of the patients had received heparin before their symptoms started.9Our patient did not present thrombocytopenia, so anti-PF4 antibodies were not tested. Thus, considering the anemia, thrombocytosis and thrombosis diagnosed 1day after the first dose ofCOVID-19 vaccine, it seems prudent to continue investigation for other causes of this event, such as hematological malignancies or others.
REFERENCES 1 Burch J, Enofe I. Acute mesenteric ischaemia secondary to portal, splenic and superior mesenteric vein thrombosis. BMJ Case Rep 2019;12:e230145. 2 Singer DE, Albers GW, Dalen JE, et al. Antithrombotic therapy in atrial fibrillation: American College of chest physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (8th edition). Chest 2008;133:546S–92. 3 Ageno W, Becattini C, Brighton T, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors and venous thromboembolism: a meta-analysis. Circulation 2008;117:93–102. 4 Fan BE, Shen JY, Lim XR, et al. Cerebral venous thrombosis post BNT162b2 mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccination: a black Swan event. Am J Hematol 2021. doi:10.1002/ ajh.26272. [Epub ahead of print: 16 Jun 2021]. 5 Dias L, Soares-Dos-Reis R, Meira J, et al. Cerebral venous thrombosis after BNT162b2 mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis 2021;30:105906. 6 Cines DB, Bussel JB. SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia. N Engl J Med 2021;384:2254–6. 7 AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine: EMA finds possible link to very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low blood platelets. Available: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/news/ astrazenecas-covid-19-vaccine-ema-finds-possible-link-very-rare-cases-unusual-bloodclots-low-blood [Accessed Apr 2021]. 8 Smadja DM, Yue Q-Y, Chocron R, et al. Vaccination against COVID-19: insight from arterial and venous thrombosis occurrence using data from VigiBase. Eur Respir J 2021;58:2100956. 9 Wise J. Covid-19: rare immune response may cause clots after AstraZeneca vaccine, say researchers. BMJ 2021;373:n954.
COVID-19 vaccines have brought us a ray of hope to effectively fight against deadly pandemic of COVID-19 and hope to save lives. Many vaccines have been granted emergency use authorizations by many countries. Post-authorization, a wide spectrum of neurological complications is continuously being reported following COVID-19 vaccination. Neurological adverse events following vaccination are generally mild and transient, like fever and chills, headache, fatigue, myalgia and arthralgia, or local injection site effects like swelling, redness, or pain. The most devastating neurological post-vaccination complication is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Cerebral venous sinus is frequently reported in females of childbearing age, generally following adenovector-based vaccination. Another major neurological complication of concern is Bell’s palsy that was reported dominantly following mRNA vaccine administration. Acute transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and acute demyelinating polyneuropathy are other unexpected neurological adverse events that occur as result of phenomenon of molecular mimicry. Reactivation of herpes zoster in many persons, following administration of mRNA vaccines, has been also recorded. Considering the enormity of recent COVID-19-vaccinated population, the number of serious neurological events is miniscule. Large collaborative prospective studies are needed to prove or disprove causal association between vaccine and neurological adverse events occurring vaccination.
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that can rapidly affect human beings and can result in coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 is dominantly characterized by lung damage and hypoxia. The first case of COVID-19, in Wuhan, China, was reported on December 8, 2019. Later, the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 as a worldwide health emergency, on January 30, 2020. On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. As per the latest World Health Organization report, there were 196,553,009 confirmed cases as on August 1, 2021 along with 4,200,412 deaths .
Early this year, COVID-19 vaccines has brought a ray of hope to effectively fight against this deadly pandemic and save precious human lives. Currently, four major vaccine types are being used. These vaccine types include viral vector-based vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA-based vaccines, inactivated or attenuated virus vaccine, and protein-based vaccines. In viral vector-based vaccines, adenovirus is used to deliver a part of SARS-COV-2 genome to human cells. Human cells use this genetic material to produce SARS-COV-2 spike protein. Human body recognizes this protein to start a defensive response. The mRNA-based vaccines consist of SARS-COV-2 RNA. Once introduced, genetic material helps in making SARS-COV-2-specific protein. This protein is recognized by human body to start defensive immune reaction. In inactivated or attenuated vaccines, killed or attenuated SARS-COV-2 virus triggers immune response. Protein-based vaccines use the spike protein or its fragments for inciting immune response. These COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency approvals in different countries for human use . As per the latest World Health Organization report, until August 1, 2021, globally, a total of 3,839,816,037 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been globally administered .
In fact, all kinds of vaccines are associated with the risk of several serious neurological complications, like acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, aseptic meningitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, macrophagic myofasciitis, and myositis. Influenza vaccine has been found associated with narcolepsy in young persons. Several pathogenic mechanisms, like molecular mimicry, direct neurotoxicity, and aberrant immune reactions, have been ascribed to explain these vaccines associated with neurological complications . Even COVID-19 vaccines are not free from neurological complications. In this article, we have focused on the neurological complications following COVID-19 vaccination that were reported after their emergency use authorizations.
We reviewed available data regarding neurological complications (post-authorization) described following the World Health Organization–approved COVID-19 vaccination. We classified COVID-19 vaccination associated with neurological complications in two broad groups: (1) common but mild and (2) rare but severe. We searched PubMed, Google, and Google Scholar databases using the keywords “COVID‐19” or “SARS‐CoV‐2” and “vaccination” or “vaccine,” to identify all published reports on neurological complications of COVID‐19 vaccines. We in this review will focus on spectrum of published neurological adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination. Last search was done on August 1, 2021.
Mild neurological events
Neurological adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination are generally mild and transient, like fever/chills, headache, fatigue, myalgia and arthralgia, or local injection site effects like swelling, redness, or pain. These mild neurological symptoms are common following administration of all kinds of COVID-19 vaccines.
Anxiety-related events, like feeling of syncope and/or dizziness, are particularly common. For example, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a report published on April 30, 2021, recorded 64 anxiety-related events (syncope in 17) among 8,624 Janssen COVID-19 vaccine recipients. None of the event was labeled as serious .
In Mexico (data available in form of preprint) among 704 003 subjects who received first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, 6536 adverse events following immunization were recorded. Among those, 4258 (65%) had at least one neurologic manifestation, mostly (99.6%) mild and transient. These events included headache (62·2%), transient sensory symptoms (3·5%), and weakness (1%). In this study, there were only 17 serious adverse events, seizures (7), functional syndromes (4), Guillain-Barré syndrome (3), and transverse myelitis (2) .
In South Korea, Kim and co-workers collected data of post-vaccination adverse events following first dose of adenovirus vector vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (1,403 subjects) and mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 (80 subjects) vaccinations. Data were collected daily for 7 days after vaccination. Authors noted that 91% of adenovirus-vectored vaccine and 53% of mRNA vaccine recipients had mild adverse reactions, like injection-site pain, myalgia, fatigue, headache, and fever . A mobile-based survey among healthcare workers (265 respondents) who received both doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine was conducted. The most common adverse effects were muscle ache, fatigue, headache, chills, and fever. Adverse reactions were higher after the second dose compared with that after the first dose .
Headache is one of the most frequent mild neurological complaints reported by a large number of COVID-19 vaccine recipients, soon after they receive vaccine.
A review of headache characteristic noted that among 2464 participants, headache begun 14.5 ± 21.6 h after AstraZeneca adenovirus vector vaccine COVID-19 vaccination and persisted for 16.3 ± 30.4 h. Headaches, in majority, were moderate to severe in intensity and generally localized to frontal region. Common accompanying symptoms were fatigue, chills, exhaustion, and fever . In a multicenter observational cohort study, Göbel et al. recorded clinical characteristic of headache occurring after the mRNA BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Generally, headache started 18.0 ± 27.0 h after vaccination and persisted for 14.2 ± 21.3 h. In majority, the headaches were bifrontal or temporal, dull aching character and were moderate to severe in intensity. The common accompanying symptoms were fatigue, exhaustion, and muscle pain .
Severe neurological adverse events
Serious adverse reaction following immunization is defined as a post-vaccination event that are either life-threatening, requires hospitalization, or result in severe disability. The World Health Organization listed Guillain-Barré syndrome, seizures, anaphylaxis, syncope, encephalitis, thrombocytopenia, vasculitis, and Bell’s palsy as serious neurologic adverse events. Instances of serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccinations are continuously pouring in the current scientific literature and are source of vaccine hesitancy in many persons  (Fig. 1).
A flow diagram depicts the spectrum of severe neurological complications following COVID-19 vaccinations (ADEM, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis; CVST, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis; LETM, longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis; MS, multiple sclerosis; NMOSD, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders; PRES, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome; TIA, transient ischemic attacks)
Functional neurological disorders
Functional neurological disorders are triggered by physical/emotional stress following an injury, medical illness, a surgery, or vaccination. Functional neurological disorders often remain misdiagnosed despite extensive workup.
After availability of COVID-19 vaccine, many YouTube videos depicted continuous limb and trunk movements and difficulty walking immediately after COVID-19 vaccine administration. These videos were of concern as they were the source of “vaccine hesitancy” . Kim and colleagues reviewed several such social media videos demonstrating motor movements consistent with functional motor symptoms occurring after administration of COVID-19 vaccine. Motor movements were bizarre asynchronous and rapidly variable in frequency and amplitude consistent with functional neurological disorder. The Functional Neurological Disorder Society has lately clarified that movement disorder is consistent with functional in nature. The spread of these videos are important because these functional disorders created concerns for vaccine hesitancy .
Several other kinds of functional neurological disorders have also been reported. Butler and colleagues described two young ladies, who presented with functional motor deficits mimicking stroke. Both these patients had variability in weakness and had many non-specific symptoms. A detailed workup and neuroimaging failed to demonstrate any specific abnormality . Ercoli and colleagues described a middle-aged man who, immediately after vaccine administration, reported bilateral facial paralysis along with failure to blink. These manifestations resolved quickly within 40 min. Immediately after administration of second dose of vaccine, he complained of respiratory distress and swollen tongue. Again, all these symptoms resolved quickly following treatment with corticosteroids, however, he developed new symptoms in the form of right hemiparesis. Two weeks later, he developed facial hypoesthesia. A detailed workup of the patient failed to demonstrate any abnormality. A diagnosis of functional neurological disorder was, finally, made .
Cerebral vascular events
As a matter of concern, increasing number of reports about adenoviral vector vaccine-induced cerebral vascular adverse events, like cerebral venous thrombosis, arterial stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage, is getting published in leading medical journals. These reports are alarming as post-vaccination vascular events culminate either in severe disability or death. Vaccine-induced cerebral vascular adverse events are generally associated with severe immune-mediated thrombotic thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia generally clinically manifests within 5 to 30 days after administration of adenovirus vector-based vaccines. In post-vaccination thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a picture similar to that of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is encountered. When heparin binds platelet factor 4, there is generation of antibodies against platelet factor 4. Antibodies against platelet factor 4 result in platelet destruction and trigger the intravascular blood clotting . The post-mortem examination, in patients with vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia, demonstrated extensive involvement of large venous vessels. Microscopic findings showed vascular thrombotic occlusions occurring in the vessels of multiple body organs along with marked inflammatory infiltration . The vector-based vaccines contain genetic material of SARS-COV-2 that is capable of encoding the spike glycoprotein. Possibly, leaked genetic material binds to platelet factor 4 that subsequently activates formation of autoantibodies. These autoantibodies destroy platelets [16, 17].
Cerebral venous thrombosis
Cerebral venous thrombosis is the one of the most feared devastating COVID-19 vaccine-associated neurological complication. Cerebral venous thrombosis should be suspected in all vaccinated patients, who has persistent headache. Headache is generally unresponsive to the analgesics, and some patients may have focal neurological deficits. Affected patients are generally females of younger ages (Table (Table1)1) [18–46].
Clinical, magnetic resonance imaging findings, and outcome details of patients who developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
New onset of mild to moderate headache and giddiness
CT) of the brain showed cordlike hyperattenuation within the left transverse and sigmoid sinus suggestive of cord or dense clot sign CT cerebral venography a long segment-filling defect and empty delta sign within the superior sagittal sinus extending into the torcula Herophili, left transverse sinus, and sigmoid sinus to proximal internal jugular vein
Complete thrombosis of the left transverse and sigmoid sinus down to the left proximal jugular vein Temporo-parietal intracranial hemorrhage CT angiography revealed extensive thrombosis of the mesenteric and portal vein
A report three patients one had cerebral venous sinus thrombosis
ChAdOx1 nCov-19, AstraZeneca
Diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, recently diagnosed prostate cancer Headache and confusion left-sided weakness Thrombocytopenia Autoantibodies against platelet factor 4
Right middle cerebral-artery stroke with hemorrhagic transformation Right cerebral transverse and sigmoid sinuses, right internal jugular vein, hepatic vein, and distal lower-limb vein; pulmonary embolism
headache non-responsive to drugs right-sided weakness and visual disturbances rapidly deteriorated with decreased consciousness
Multifocal venous thrombosis with bilateral occlusion of parietal cortical veins, straight sinus, vein of Galen, internal cerebral veins, and inferior sagittal sinus. Right parietal and left frontoparietal lobes an extensive venous infarction with hemorrhagic transformation Platelet-factor 4 (PF4)–heparin IgG antibodies – elevated thrombocytopenia
Visual disturbance followed by a headache, nausea, vomiting, bruising and petechiae severe thunderclap headache, nausea and vomiting headache, persistent bruising and petechiae all had thrombocytopenia
Dural venous sinus thrombosis in one patient only other had abdominal abnormalities
Severe headache and vomiting and acute left hemiparesis Headache and vomiting Right ataxic hemiparesis There was no thrombocytopenia
A large right temporo-parietal lobe intraparenchymal hemorrhage Acute right cerebral bleed involving occipital and temporal lobes associated with subarachnoid hemorrhage Venous infarct in bilateral perirolandic gyri Venogram confirmed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in all three
Headache, nausea and photophobia a sudden left motor deficit Sudden right lower limb clonic movements, followed by motor deficit, loss of consciousness and headache There was no thrombocytopenia Anti-platelet antibodies were not detected
MRI with venography revealed thrombosis of superior sagittal, right lateral, transverse, sigmoid sinuses, and jugular vein and left sigmoid sinus, together with right frontal subarachnoid hemorrhage and a cortical venous infarct Brain MRI showed thrombosis of high convexity cortical veins, superior sagittal, right transverse, and sigmoid sinus and jugular vein
Acetazolamide and enoxaparin Levetiracetam 500 mg bid and enoxaparin
Nausea and thunderclap headache thrombocytopenia Platelet factor 4 antibodies detected
Hyperdensity of the sinus, including cord sign and dense vein sign at the left transverse and sigmoid sinuses CT venogram revealed CVST at the left transverse sinus and sigmoid sinuses and thrombosis of the left internal jugular vein
In Europe, since March 2021, cases of cerebral venous thrombosis started pouring in following COVID-19 vaccination, particularly after administration of viral vector based (AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and the Johnson and Johnson Ad26. COV2.S) vaccines . Scully and colleagues recently reported findings of 23 patients, who presented with thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (platelet counts below 10 × 109/L). These patients developed thrombosis and thrombocytopenia 6 to 24 days after they received the first dose of the viral vector-based vaccines. In a significant observation, authors, in majority of patients, demonstrated the presence of autoantibodies against platelet factor 4. Additionally, D-dimer levels were found elevated . Tiede and co-workers reported five German cases of prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia after vaccination with viral vector-based vaccine (Vaxzevria). In these patients, acute vascular events clinically manifested as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, splanchnic vein thrombosis, arterial cerebral thromboembolism, and/or thrombotic microangiopathy within 2 weeks post vaccination. All five patients had low platelet counts and markedly raised D-dimer. In all, autoantibodies against platelet factor 4 were also demonstrated .
Pottegård et al. in Denmark and Norway evaluated incidence of arterial events, venous thromboembolism, thrombocytopenia, and bleeding among vaccinated population. The vaccinated cohorts comprised of 148,792 Danish people and 132,472 persons from Norway. All has received their first dose of viral vector-based vaccine (ChAdOx1-S). An excess rate of venous thromboembolism (like cerebral venous thrombosis) was observed among vaccine recipients, within 28 days of vaccine administration. Authors estimated an increased rate for venous thromboembolism corresponding to 11 excess events per 100,000 vaccinations with 2.5 excess cerebral venous thrombosis events per 100,000 vaccinations .
Krzywicka et al., from the Netherlands, collected data of 213 cases with post-vaccination (187 after adenoviral vector vaccines and 26 after a mRNA vaccine) cerebral venous sinus thrombosis; they noted thrombocytopenia in 107/187 (57%) post-vaccination cerebral venous sinus thrombosis cases. Thrombocytopenia was not recorded in any of patients, who received an mRNA-based vaccine. Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis after adenoviral vector vaccines carried poorer prognosis. Approximately, 38% (44/117) patients in adenoviral vector vaccine group died, while in mRNA vaccine group, 20% (2/10) had died .
Recently published National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that the patients with clinical diagnosis of vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis should be treated with intravenous administration of human immunoglobulin, at a dose of 1 g/kg. If there is no response or there is further deterioration, second dose of human immunoglobulin should be given. In patients with insufficient response, methylprednisolone 1 g intravenously for 3 days or dexamethasone 20 to 40 mg for 4 days can be used .
Heparin needs to be avoided, instead alternative anticoagulants like argatroban, bivalirudin, fondaparinux, rivaroxaban, or apixaban should be used for anticoagulation [49–51]. NICE guidelines further recommend that patients with very low platelet count should be treated either alone with a argatroban or a combination of argatroban and platelet transfusion .
Several acute arterial events, like arterial thrombosis, intracerebral hemorrhage, transient global amnesia, and spinal artery ischemia, have also been reported following vaccination .
Simpson and colleagues, in Scotland, estimated the incidence of vaccine-associated thrombocytopenia and vascular events following administration of first dose of viral vector-based vaccine (ChAdOx1) or mRNA (BNT162b2 Pfizer-BioNTech or mRNA-1273 Moderna) vaccination. First dose of viral vector-based vaccine was associated with small enhanced risk of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura; in addition, up to 27 days after vaccination, there was possibility of an increased risk for thromboembolic and hemorrhagic events. No such adverse associations were noted with mRNA vaccines . The reports of COVID-19 vaccine-related intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic stroke are summarized in Table Table22 [53–61].
Clinical, neuroimaging and outcome details of patients who suffered strokes (other than cerebral venous thrombosis) after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Athyros and Doumas reported a 71-year-old female. who developed intracerebral hemorrhage after she received the first dose of the Moderna mRNA vaccine.
On the third post-vaccination day, the patient developed right hemiplegia, aphasia, and agnosia along with accelerated hypertension. Computed tomography revealed a hematoma in the left basal ganglia. On the 9th day, she died .
In another report, Bjørnstad-Tuveng et al. described a young woman, who had a fatal cerebral event following vaccination with AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. She was found to have severe thrombocytopenia. The patient died the next day of the event. Post-mortem examination revealed antibodies against platelet factor 4 and the presence of small thrombi in the transverse sinus, frontal lobe, and pulmonary artery .
Acute ischemic stroke
Bayas and co-workers described a case that presented with superior ophthalmic vein thrombosis, ischemic stroke, and immune thrombocytopenia, after administration of viral vector-based vaccine. Intravenous dexamethasone resulted in marked improvement in platelet count . Al-Mayhani et al. described three cases of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, all presented with arterial strokes. Authors opined that young patients with arterial stroke after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should always be evaluated for vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia. Other laboratory tests, like platelet count, D-dimers, fibrinogen level, and testing for platelet factor 4 antibodies, should also be performed .
Blauenfeldt et al. described a 60-year-old woman, who presented with intractable abdominal pain, 7 days after receiving the adenoviral (ChAdOx1) vector-based COVID-19 vaccine. Abdominal computed tomography revealed bilateral adrenal necrosis. Later, a massive right cerebral infarction, secondary to occlusion of the right internal carotid artery, occurred that led to death of the patient. Blood tests showed thrombocytopenia, elevated in D-dimer and platelet factor 4 antibodies .
Many reports of acute brain disorders like encephalopathy, seizures, acute disseminated encephalopathy, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and post-vaccine encephalitis were described secondary to COVID-19 vaccine. These are summarized in Table Table33 [62–75].
Clinical, neuroimaging and outcome details of patients who presented with an acute brain disorder (other than cerebral venous thrombosis and arterial stroke) after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Diastolic dysfunction, chronic kidney disease and diabetes mellitus with acute encephalopathy Acute confusion with visual hallucinations EEG demonstrated non-convulsive focal status epilepticus Acute encephalopathy with non-convulsive status epilepticus
Confusion, fever and generalized rash; later headache, dizziness and double vision leading to severe encephalopathy Intermittent orofacial movements and upper extremity myoclonus CSF showed increased cells and protein. Skin biopsy showed vasculitis changes
Some patients developed encephalopathy following administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Acute encephalopathy is defined as rapidly evolving disorder of the brain. Acute encephalopathy clinically manifests either with delirium, decreased consciousness, or coma.
Delirium is characterized with fluctuating disturbance in attention and awareness. Zavala-Jonguitud and Pérez-García described an 89-year-old man, who developed delirium after mRNA vaccination. Within 24 h, patient developed confusion, fluctuating attention, anxiety, and inversion of the sleep–wake cycle. Patient had many comorbidities (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease). Patient improved after he was treated with quetiapine .
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a life-threatening complication of many antipsychotic drugs characterized by fever, altered mental status, muscle rigidity, and autonomic dysfunction. In an isolated report, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, in a 74-year-old female with dementia and bipolar disorder 16 days after COVID-19 vaccination, has been described .
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an acute inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system. In the majority, ADEM is a post-infectious entity; in many cases, it even develops after vaccination . In two cases, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis following COVID-19 vaccination has been reported. In first such case a 46-year-old woman received Sinovac inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine before onset of clinical manifestations. Patient was presented with seizures, and magnetic resonance imaging revealed multiple, discrete T2/FLAIR periventricular. hyperintense lesions. Patient improved following methylprednisolone treatment  Another patient was a 24-year-old female who presented with encephalopathy along with limb weakness of 1-day duration. Two weeks prior, patient was vaccinated with inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed multiple, discrete T2/FLAIR hyperintense lesions in the brain. Patient improved following treatment with antiepileptics and intravenous immunoglobulins .
Zuhorn et al. reported a case series 3 patients, who presented with post-vaccinal encephalitis, akin to autoimmune encephalitis, 7 to 11 days after administration of adenovirus-based ChAdOx1 nCov-19 vaccine. All patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for possible autoimmune encephalitis. One interesting case had presented with opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome. Two patients presented with cognitive decline, seizures, and gait disorder. Neuroimaging did not reveal any abnormality. CSF pleocytosis was noted in all three patients. All patients responded well to corticosteroids .
Acute transverse myelitis is an inflammatory spinal cord disorder that clinically manifests with the paraparesis/quadriparesis, transverse sensory level, and bowel or bladder dysfunction. Acute transverse myelitis usually is a postinfectious disorder. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates T2/FLAIR hyperintensity extending several spinal cord segments. Autoimmunity via mechanism of molecular mimicry is usually responsible for spinal cord dysfunction. Adenoviral vector-based COVID-19 vaccines are more frequently associated with causation of transverse myelitis. In isolated cases, even inactivated virus vaccine and mRNA-based vaccines had precipitated acute demyelination spinal cord syndromes, like multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica. Reports of myelitis associated with vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 are summarized in Table Table44 [77–83].
Clinical, neuroimaging, and outcome details of patients who presented with spinal cord involvement after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Malhotra and colleagues reported a 36-year-old patient, who had short-segment myelitis 21 days after first dose of adenoviral vector-based (Oxford/AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD™) vaccine. Patient recovered completely after treatment with methylprednisolone . Fitzsimmons and Nance reported another patient of acute transverse myelitis following Moderna vaccine (an mRNA vaccine). The 63-year-old patient developed symptoms of acute myelopathy within 24 h of vaccination. MRI revealed increased T2 cord signal seen in the distal spinal cord and conus. Patient improved considerably following treatment with methylprednisolone and intravenous immunoglobulin .
Earlier, in phase III trial of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 2 patients had developed transverse myelitis. One of the case of transverse myelitis was reported 14 days after booster vaccination. The expert committee considered that this case was the most likely an idiopathic, short segment transverse myelitis. The second case was reported 68 days post-vaccination. Experts believed that in this case, transverse myelitis was not likely to be associated with vaccination. This patient was earlier diagnosed as a case of multiple sclerosis [84, 85].
The pathogenesis of acute transverse myelitis following COVID-19 vaccination remains unknown. Possibly, SARS-CoV-2 antigens present in the COVID-19 vaccine or its adenovirus adjuvant induce immunological reaction in the spinal cord. The occurrence of 3 reported acute transverse myelitis adverse effects among 11,636 participants in the vaccine trials was considered high and a cause of concern .
Several cases of Bell’s palsy have occurred following COVID-19 vaccination. (Table (Table5)5) [87–95]. The instances of Bell’s palsy are most often associated with mRNA vaccines . Vaccine-associated Bell’s palsy generally responds very well to the oral corticosteroids. The exact pathogenesis remains speculative.
Summary of reported patients, who suffered from Bell’s palsy after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
In a case–control study, Shemer et al. compared clinical parameters of patients with Bell’s palsy following mRNA vaccination with that of patients with Bell’s palsy without vaccination. Out of 37 patients, 21 had received vaccination. Bell’s palsy developed within 2 weeks following first dose of COVID-19 vaccination. There was no difference in any of the clinical parameter between vaccinated or unvaccinated groups .
Earlier, in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial, which included 44,000 participants, 4 people had Bell’s palsy. No case of Bell’s palsy was reported in the placebo arm. In the Moderna trial, which included 30,400 participants, 3 vaccine recipients reported Bell’s palsy. One person was in the placebo arm . An article, published in the Lancet, analyzed the combined phase 3 data of Pfizer and Moderna trials and noted that the rate of Bell’s palsy was higher than expected .
Other cranial nerve involvement
In isolated instances, mRNA vaccines were found associated with olfactory dysfunction and sixth cranial nerve palsy (Table (Table6)6) [99–104].
Summary of reported patients, who suffered from cranial nerve involvement (other than Bell’s palsy) after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Olfactory dysfunction is the most frequent neurological complication of COVID-19. Konstantinidis and colleagues reported two cases of smell impairment after second dose of the BioNTechBNT162b2 vaccine (Pfizer) administration .
Keir and colleagues reported phantosmia following administration of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Patient complained of constantly “smelling smoke” and headaches. MRI of brain of the patient showed enhancement of the olfactory bulbs and bilateral olfactory tracts .
Abducens nerve palsy
Reyes-Capo et al. reported a 59-year-old lady, who presented with an abducen nerve palsy 2 days post-vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine). Neuroimaging in this patient was normal..
A variety of otologic manifestations has been noted following COVID-19 vaccination. Parrino and colleagues described three patients with sudden unilateral tinnitus following BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine administration. Tinnitus rapidly resolved in 2 cases. Wichova and colleagues in a retrospective review recorded 30 patients, who either had significantly exacerbated otologic symptoms or had a new symptom after getting mRNA vaccine. Post-vaccination otologic manifestations included hearing loss with tinnitus, dizziness, or with vertigo. In some patients, with Menière’s disease or autoimmune inner ear disease, vaccine led to exacerbation of the pre-existing otologic symptoms [102,105].
Acute vision loss
Santovito and Pinna reported an unusual patient, who developed acute visual impairment following the 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Prior to visual symptoms, patient experienced unilateral headache. He also reported mild confusion, asthenia, and profound nausea. His symptoms got relieved after taking analgesics. Possibly, patient had an acute attack of migraine with aura that got precipitated by the vaccine .
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a post-infectious disorder of peripheral nerve manifesting with lower motor neuron type of sensory-motor quadriparesis. Acute motor weakness is frequently preceded by an antecedent microbial infection. There are numerous reports indicating that COVID-19 infection can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome. The US Food and Drug Administration has recently expressed its concern regarding a possible association between the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine with Guillain-Barré syndrome .
After emergency use approvals, all kinds of COVID-19 vaccines were found associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Adenovector-based vaccines were more frequently associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Earlier, in phase 3 trial of Johnson and Johnson adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine, 2 patients developed Guillain-Barré syndrome. One patient belonged to vaccine group and other to placebo group. Both patients had Guillain-Barré syndrome within 2 weeks of receiving injections. The Guillain-Barré syndrome in the vaccine arm was preceded by chills, nausea, diarrhea, and myalgia [108, 109].
Post-vaccination Guillain-Barré syndrome generally affects older adults within 2 weeks of vaccine administration. Clinical presentation is similar to acute demyelinating neuropathy; nerve conduction studies show demyelinating pattern, and CSF examination shows cyto-albuminic dissociation. Many patients present only with facial diplegia. Response to immunotherapy is generally good. (Table (Table7)7) [110–126].
Summary of reported patients, who developed an acute peripheral nerve disorder after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
All patients progressed to areflexic quadriplegia 2 cases required mechanical ventilation All 7 cases had bilateral facial paresis Four patients (57%) also developed other cranial neuropathies (4th and 5th)
Proposed pathogenesis of Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoantibody-mediated immunological damage of peripheral nerves via mechanism of molecular mimicry between structural components of peripheral nerves and the microorganism. Lately, several cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome following COVID-19 vaccination have also been reported.
Small fiber neuropathy
Waheed et al. described a 57-year-old female, who presented with painful neuropathy following administration of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Patient subacutely presented with intense peripheral burning sensations. Electrodiagnostic studies were normal. Skin biopsy proved small fiber neuropathy. Patient responded to gabapentin.(Table gabapentin.(Table7)7) .
Parsonage-Turner syndrome or neuralgic amyotrophy is clinically manifested with acute unilateral shoulder pain followed by brachial plexopathy. Parsonage-Turner syndrome is usually triggered by any infection, surgery, or rarely vaccination. In many reports, Parsonage-Turner syndrome has been described following COVID-19 vaccination.(Table vaccination.(Table8)8) [128–130].
Summary of reported patients, who developed neuralgic amyotrophy after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Sudden onset of severe left periscapular pain after first dose One week after the second dose, the patient developed left hand grip and left wrist extension weakness. Electromyography showed decreased motor unit recruitment
Herpes zoster occurs following reactivation of varicella zoster virus. Patients with herpes zoster present with the classic maculopapular rash, which is unilateral, confined to a single dermatome. The rash disappears in 7 to 10 days. Postherpetic neuralgia is the frequent complication of herpes zoster, which is noted in 1 in 5 patients. McMahon and co-workers recorded 414 cutaneous reactions to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, and 5 (1.9%) were diagnosed with herpes zoster . Other types of COVID-19 vaccines are infrequently associated with post-vaccination reactivation of herpes zoster. It has been suggested that vaccine-induced immunomodulation, resulting in dysregulation of T cell function, is responsible for reactivation of herpes zoster virus [132, 133]. Reports of herpes zoster reactivation after vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 are summarized in Table Table99 [134–142].
Summary of reported patients, who developed Herpes zoster after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
There are reports, which have indicated that COVID-19 vaccines have potential to damage the skeletal muscles as well (Table (Table10)10) [143–147]. Tan and colleagues described a patient with a known carnitine palmitoyltransferase-II deficiency disorder, who developed fever, vomiting, shortness of breath, frank haematuria, myalgia and muscle weakness within four hours of receiving AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine . Theodorou and colleagues described a 56-year-old woman who, 8 days after a second dose of vaccine administration, developed severe left upper arm pain along restricted shoulder movements. Her serum creatine kinase was elevated suggesting skeletal muscle damage. MRI revealed severely edematous deltoid muscles. Contrast-enhanced imaging demonstrated enhancement of deltoid muscles suggestive of myositis .
Summary of reported patients, who developed an acute muscular disorder following vaccination against SARS-CoV-2
Post-authorization, a wide spectrum of serious neurological complications has been reported following COVID-19 vaccination. The most devastating neurological complication is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis that has been reported in females of childbearing age following adenovector-based vaccines. Another major neurological complication of concern is Bell’s palsy that was reported dominantly following mRNA vaccine administration. Transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome are other severe unexpected post-vaccination complications that can occur as result of molecular mimicry and subsequent neuronal damage. Most of other serious neurological complications are reported in either in form of isolated case reports or small cases series. A causal association of these adverse events is controversial; large collaborative prospective studies are needed to prove causality.
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As of September 2021, SARS-CoV-2 booster shots became widely available in the US to ensure continued protection against the virus. A temporal relationship has been previously reported between the first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the development of thrombocytopenia. However, adverse events related to the third COVID-19 vaccine are still being reported and studied. We report a 74-year-old male who developed bone marrow suppression and pancytopenia recorded seven days after receiving the Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. During his hospital stay, the patient’s hemoglobin, white blood cell, and platelet levels continued to trend downwards. However, all three levels showed improvement one week after discharge without robust intervention. Global vaccination is of utmost importance, as is understanding and documenting post-vaccination reactions including bone marrow suppression. Prompt evaluation and patient education are imperative to improve patient outcomes and combat hesitancy against vaccine administration.
Since its emergence in December of 2019, the rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has quickly affected millions of lives across every continent.1 This highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection has led to massive mitigation efforts and allocation of resources to prevent the spread of transmission and high mortality related to complications.2 The establishment of higher levels of community (herd) immunity and protection against SARS-CoV-2 via the widespread deployment of effective vaccines has become a global effort.3 In December of 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine as a two-dose series.4 In September 2021, booster vaccines became widely administered in the US due to waning immunity of the COVID-19 vaccines against variants of SARS-CoV-2 along with ensuring continued protection against the virus.5
Serious adverse events such as anaphylaxis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, myocarditis, pericarditis, thrombocytopenia, and death have been previously reported following the first and/or second dose of vaccine.6 To our knowledge, no cases have been reported regarding bone marrow suppression related to the third COVID-19 vaccine. Adverse events reported between August 12-September 19, 2021 from the COVID-19 booster vaccine supported similar reactions to those after dose two.7 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these initial findings indicate no unexpected patterns of adverse reactions after an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccination.7 However, adverse events related to the COVID-19 booster are still being reported and studied.6 This report presents a case of bone marrow suppression occurring after the third COVID-19 vaccine without a similar reaction after the first or second dose.Go to:
A 74-year-old male with a history of polychondritis and hypothyroidism presented to the hospital after falling out of his chair and inability to ambulate. The patient was found to be mildly confused upon arrival to the emergency room, limiting our ability to obtain a full verbal history. Chart review revealed the patient had received his third Pfizer Covid vaccine shot seven days before admission followed by fatigue, decreased appetite, fever, and chills. The patient had received the second Pfizer Covid-19 shot nine months before the booster. No reactions to the previous two shots were noted.
Upon initial evaluation, vital signs were within normal limits and a physical exam revealed significant tenderness in the upper arm and no gross bleeding (Figure 1). Computed tomography (CT) imaging (Figure 2) was significant for enhancement of the left axillary lymph node. The patient’s initial complete blood count (CBC) was remarkable for a hemoglobin count of 9.9 g/dl and platelet count of 84 x 109/L; both values lower than his prior hemoglobin count of 13.7 g/dl and platelet count of 180 x 109/L from December of 2020. His mean corpuscular volume (MCV) was elevated at 101.3 femtolitres from his prior MCV value of 95.8 femtolitres in December of 2020. His white blood cell (WBC) count was recorded at 7.6 x 109/L.
The patient’s CT imaging of the thoracic region showed enhancement of the left axillary lymph node.
The hemoglobin, WBC, and platelet count further down trended from his baseline (Figures 3–5).5). Anemia labs including ferritin levels (554 ng/mL), vitamin B12 (253 pg/mL), total bilirubin (0.5 mg/dL), and reticulocyte count (0.8%) were nonsignificant during the patient’s hospital stay. The patient’s left shoulder presented with extensive bruising, erythema, papular rash, warmth, and tenderness on palpation during the hospitalization. An improvement in WBC and platelet levels was noted on day 4 of hospitalization.
The patient’s platelet count throughout his hospital course and 6 days after discharge.
Before discharge, the patient was fully alert and oriented and reported improvement in his symptoms. Examination of his lateral left arm showed decreased erythema and bruising with slight petechiae. The patient was discharged due to stabilization of labs and encouraged to take oral vitamin B12 supplements. During his outpatient follow-up six days after hospitalization, his hemoglobin increased to 10.5 g/dl, WBC count increased to 4.9 x 109/L, and platelets increased to 101 x 109/L.
This paper presents a patient with pancytopenia recorded seven days after receiving the Pfizer booster vaccine. Interestingly, this patient did not report any reactions after the first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Pancytopenia refers to a decrease in all peripheral bloodlines and is present when all three cell lines are below the normal reference range.8 The patient’s physical exam showed no signs of active bleeding along with his labs indicating no evidence of hemolysis. The patient’s hemoglobin, platelet, and white blood cell count presented below baseline followed by a decrease and slight improvement during his hospital stay. Six days after hospitalization, all three cell lines showed improvement. The temporal association with the booster vaccine and negative infectious disease workup raised suspicion for vaccine-induced bone marrow suppression. In addition, the patient’s reticulocyte count and lactate dehydrogenase value were consistent with hypoproliferation within the bone marrow.
Currently, there is a gap in knowledge of adverse events specific to the third vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 due to the recent initiation of administration and ongoing reporting of events.6 To our knowledge, bone marrow suppression after any dose of vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 has not been previously reported. However, a prior case of pancytopenia after the third vaccination with a recombinant hepatitis B vaccine has previously been reported.9 The patient’s bone marrow biopsy within this case displayed a paucity of late myeloid elements and CD8+ T cells.9 It was believed the patient’s CD8+T cells were causing excessive production of IFN-γ; a stimulant of negative regulators of hematopoiesis such as tumor necrosis factor and lymphotoxin.10 IFN-γ has also previously been reported to create immunological effects comprising an upregulation of histocompatibility gene transcription and alteration in class I and II antigen expression at the cell surface.11 It was predicted these changes resulted in an autoimmune reaction causing suppression of maturation of hematopoietic progenitor cells and pancytopenia.9 Via a similar mechanism, we believe that our patient’s pancytopenia was immune-mediated, potentially triggered by the vaccination.
Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 (first or second dose) and the induction of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) have also been recently acknowledged in multiple cases.12 Our patient presented with low platelet levels and associated petechiae and purpura at the site of the vaccination. However, the patient’s presentation of low hemoglobin and white blood cells along with normal reticulocyte levels was more indicative of pancytopenia secondary to bone marrow suppression. In patients presenting with pancytopenia, the history and the physical exam should help assess the severity of the pancytopenia and comorbid illnesses that may complicate the disorder.13 In addition, suspicious medications and exposure to toxic agents should be ruled out.13 Initial screening laboratory evaluation should include the patient’s complete blood count, peripheral blood smear examination, reticulocyte count, complete metabolic panel, prothrombin time/partial thromboplastin time, and blood type and screen. Common interventions to alleviate bone marrow suppression and pancytopenia include treating the underlying cause and utilizing supplements to boost red blood cell production if indicated.
Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 undergo continuous safety monitoring; adverse events are very rare.14 However, vaccine hesitancy remains a barrier towards full population inoculation against SARS-CoV-2 and is influenced by misinformation regarding vaccine safety.15 One study using an anonymous online questionnaire found a person’s trust in the effectiveness of the vaccine was a major facilitative factor affecting willingness to vaccinate.16 The same study also found that 66.7% of unvaccinated participants thought the vaccine’s safety was not enough, making it the main reason for reluctance or hesitance to be vaccinated.16 Therefore, education of adverse events and available interventions post-vaccination is imperative to prevent the spread of misinformation and combat hesitancy towards vaccination.15
As of September 19, 2021, about 2.2 million people in the United States received a third vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.17 Among those who received the vaccine, 22,000 people reported the effects of the vaccine with no unexpected patterns of adverse reactions.17 Our patient demonstrates abnormal pancytopenia first recorded seven days after receiving the booster vaccine, possibly indicating a rare adverse event from the vaccination given the temporal relationship. While additional studies and observations are indicated to verify bone marrow suppression as an adverse reaction, this case report provides an opportunity for patient education and treatment planning before symptoms arise.
Our case report highlights pancytopenia secondary to bone marrow suppression following Pfizer vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. It is important to consider the possibility of bone marrow suppression following the third vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Although additional studies are indicated to determine the risk factors and pathogenesis of vaccine-induced bone marrow suppression, prompt evaluation and initiation of interventions can improve patient outcomes.
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The spike protein present in Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines is one of the most bioactive and potentially damaging substances known to mankind. It penetrates the blood-brain barrier, cell nucleus and even affects DNA replication. The spike protein appears to reprogram the immune system in a strange way. The BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine against the COVID-19 virus has been shown to reprogram both adaptive and innate immune responses. When it penetrates the cell nuclei, the free-floating spike protein inhibits DNA repair. There had been immune system problems in the vaccinated, and it is becoming apparent that they do not actually develop broad natural immunity. Instead, they produce more S antibodies against the spike protein that they were originally vaccinated with. A recent surveillance report from the U.K. Health Security Agency showed that N antibody levels appear to be lower in individuals who acquire infection following two doses of the vaccine. This means that the vaccines interfere with the immune system’s ability to produce antibodies against the virus following infection. In the case of the N antibody, this is shown to be against the nucleocapsid protein, which serves as the shell of the virus and is an important part of the immune system response of the unvaccinated population. (Related: After you are vaccine damaged, if you complain about symptoms you will be REQUIRED to take psychiatric medications until your “disorder” is cured.) If any mutations to the spike protein of the COVID virus occur in the future, the vaccinated will be more vulnerable and may possibly be unprotected due to their inability to produce the N antibody. Meanwhile, the unvaccinated would have much better immunity to any mutations due to their ability to produce both S and N antibodies after infection. America’s Front Line Doctors also warned that vaccines are turning people’s bodies into walking spike protein factories, which causes the body to create antibodies to them. “First, these vaccines ‘mis-train’ the immune system to recognize only a small part of the virus [the spike protein]. Variants that differ, even slightly, in this protein are able to escape the narrow spectrum of antibodies created by the vaccines,” AFLDS explained. “Second, the vaccines create ‘vaccine addicts,’ meaning persons become dependent upon regular booster shots because they have been ‘vaccinated’ only against a tiny portion of a mutating virus.” The group also cited Australian Health Minister Dr. Kerry Chant, who said that COVID will become endemic and people will have to get used to taking endless vaccines. Finally, there is the simple fact that the vaccines do not, in any way, prevent infection in the nose and upper airways, which is where fully vaccinated people tend to show the highest viral loads. Immune problems and other vaccine infections Vaccinated individuals have also encountered immune problems and reinfections. These conditions, dubbed VAIDS (or Vaccine Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), have been very concerning as they could be damaging to individuals. While not an official scientific term, it is important to bring attention to VAIDS, especially for those who are concerned about the immune health of their vaccinated loved ones. In late January, an anti-mandate rally in Italy reiterated the claim that COVID-19 vaccines were toxic and that they could cause a variety of medical catastrophes down the line. Professor Luc Montagnier, a Nobel Prize winner for medicine for his discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) said himself that those who received the third dose of COVID vaccines should go to the laboratory and take AIDS tests, then sue their governments. If Montagnier and other dissident experts are correct about “the great die-off,” then around one to two billion deaths are to be expected in the near future. If the estimation seems alarming, then people should be more aware of the rising number of adverse effects, including cancers and cardiac problems, that developed worldwide. Even Pfizer itself has a long list of possible adverse events from its vaccines, with nine pages of illnesses barely scratching the surface.
Establishing the rate of post-vaccination cardiac myocarditis in the 12-15 and 16-17-year-old population in the context of their COVID-19 hospitalization risk is critical for developing a vaccination recommendation framework that balances harms with benefits for this patient demographic. Design, Setting and Participants: Using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), this retrospective epidemiological assessment reviewed reports filed between January 1, 2021, and June 18, 2021, among adolescents ages 12-17 who received mRNA vaccination against COVID-19. Symptom search criteria included the words myocarditis, pericarditis, and myopericarditis to identify children with evidence of cardiac injury. The word troponin was a required element in the laboratory findings. Inclusion criteria were aligned with the CDC working case definition for probable myocarditis. Stratified cardiac adverse event (CAE) rates were reported for age, sex and vaccination dose number. A harm-benefit analysis was conducted using existing literature on COVID-19-related hospitalization risks in this demographic. Main outcome measures: 1) Stratified rates of mRNA vaccine-related myocarditis in adolescents age 12-15 and 16-17; and 2) harm-benefit analysis of vaccine-related CAEs in relation to COVID-19 hospitalization risk. Results: A total of 257 CAEs were identified. Rates per million following dose 2 among males were 162.2 (ages 12-15) and 94.0 (ages 16-17); among females, rates were 13.0 and 13.4 per million, respectively. For boys 12-15 without medical comorbidities receiving their second mRNA vaccination dose, the rate of CAE is 3.7-6.1 times higher than their 120-day COVID-19 hospitalization risk as of August 21, 2021 (7-day hospitalizations 1.5/100k population) and 2.6-4.3-fold higher at times of high weekly hospitalization risk (2.1/100k), such as during January 2021. For boys 16-17 without medical comorbidities, the rate of CAE is currently 2.1-3.5 times higher than their 120-day COVID-19 hospitalization risk, and 1.5-2.5 times higher at times of high weekly COVID-19 hospitalization. Conclusions: Post-vaccination CAE rate was highest in young boys aged 12-15 following dose two. For boys 12-17 without medical comorbidities, the likelihood of post vaccination dose two CAE is 162.2 and 94.0/million respectively. This incidence exceeds their expected 120-day COVID-19 hospitalization rate at both moderate (August 21, 2021 rates) and high COVID-19 hospitalization incidence. Further research into the severity and long-term sequelae of post-vaccination CAE is warranted. Quantification of the benefits of the second vaccination dose and vaccination in addition to natural immunity in this demographic may be indicated to minimize harm.
Millennials Experienced the “Worst-Ever Excess Mortality in History” – An 84% Increase In Deaths After Vaccine Mandates
Dowd, with the assistance of an insurance industry expert, compiled data from the CDC showing that, in just the second half of 2021, the total number of excess deaths for millennials was higher than the number of Americans who died in the entirety of the Vietnam War. Between August and December, there were over 61,000 deaths in this age group, compared to 58,000 over the course of 10 years in Vietnam.
In all, excess death among those who are traditionally the healthiest Americans is up by 84%.
The global vaccination drive against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 is being pursued at a historic pace. Unexpected adverse effects have been reported following vaccination, including thrombotic thrombocytopenia, myocarditis, amongst others. More recently, some cases of tinnitus are reported post-vaccination. According to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), 12,247 cases of coronavirus post-vaccination tinnitus have been reported till September 14, 2021. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first review evaluating any otologic manifestation following vaccine administration and aims to evaluate the potential pathophysiology, clinical approach, and treatment. Although the incidence is infrequent, there is a need to understand the precise mechanisms and treatment for vaccine-associated-tinnitus.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected approximately 225 million people globally, resulting in 4.6 million deaths . It commonly manifests as fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and myalgias. However, it can also lead to severe complications like pneumonia, leukopenia, kidney failure, myocardial involvement, and central nervous system (CNS) disorders .
Vaccinations are arguably the most effective preventive tool against SARS-CoV-2. In August 2020, Russia became the first country to register Sputnik V, a coronavirus vaccine based on human adenovirus vectors rAd26 and rAd5 developed by the Gamaleya national center of epidemiology and microbiology. However, this vaccine was approved without phase III trials, raising concerns over its safety .
The currently available vaccines underwent clinical trials and were approved after demonstrating an acceptable safety profile and efficacy . To date, 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered . The adverse effects of vaccines are mostly mild and transient, commonly including pain at the injection site, pyrexia, headache, myalgias, fatigue, chills  and dermatologic manifestations like Pityriasis Rosea . However, severe complications like anaphylaxis , vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia , myocarditis  have also been reported. The adverse effects of vaccine are markedly outweighed by their beneficial effects, in decreasing hospital admissions and deaths due to the SARS-CoV-2 [10,11].
Investigations of the otologic manifestations of the SARS-CoV-2 suggest the incidence of tinnitus, hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), otalgia, amongst others. However, only association with tinnitus and hearing loss were statistically significant . More recently, cases of tinnitus presented following both vector-based and mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines [13,14]. According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 12,247 cases of tinnitus post-coronavirus vaccination have been reported .
Tinnitus is an otologic symptom characterized by a conscious perception of sound without an external auditory stimulus. The prevalence varies from one population subset to another . The study by Jong Kim et al., which employed data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, reported tinnitus prevalence to be 20.7% among adults, i.e., 20- to 98-year-old . The National Health and Nutritional Examination survey data indicated a prevalence of 16.5% among the overall population and 6.6% among Asian Americans . Along with varying prevalence, it has also been associated with a wide range of risk factors including male gender, hearing impairment, ear infections, stress, unemployment, military services, dyslipidemia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression, thyroid disease, noise exposure, history of head injury and numerous others [17,19].
Herein, we review the association between SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and tinnitus. This review aims to evaluate the potential pathophysiology, clinical approach to diagnosis and management of post-vaccination tinnitus.
2. Literature search, data extraction, and results
Two independent authors (SHA, TGS) conducted a thorough literature search over PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar from inception till September 12, 2021, without any language restriction. To achieve comprehensive results, search string comprised of keywords, “SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine”, “Coronavirus Vaccine,” “Corona Vaccine,” “COVID-19 Vaccine”, “Tinnitus,” “Ear Ringing,” “Otologic Manifestations,” and separated by BOOLEAN operators “OR” and “AND.” All relevant case reports, case series, cohort studies, editorials, and correspondences were reviewed. Grey literature and bibliographies of the relevant articles were also screened. Results of the literature search are summarized in Fig. 1. The work has been reported in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2020 criteria .
Ultimately, two studies [13,14] (case report and case series) were retrieved for inclusion in the review. The studies comprised data from four patients (three males and one female) with a mean age of 41.8 ± 12.6 years. The following figure (Fig. 2) demonstrates the geographical locations where these cases were reported. Out of the four reported cases, three presented in Italy, while one was reported from Taiwan. Along with these findings, future research may enable us to predict the gender, age groups, and geographical locations that may leave certain individuals more susceptible to COVID-19 vaccine-associated tinnitus than others.
Following studies selection, two independent authors (SW, NAQ) retrieved all the relevant data comprising of author’s name, patient’s age, and sex, past medical history, vaccine administered, time from dose administration till the onset of symptoms, presenting complaint, laboratory findings, treatment interventions, and outcome into a table. All significant findings are summarized in Table 1. Any discrepancies were resolved by discussion with a third reviewer (SS).
Table 1. A tabulation of the outcomes of literature review.
Glaucoma, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, and transient tinnitus due to acute otitis media 20 years previously
BNT162b2 mRNA-vaccine Pfizer (1st dose)
Right ear tinnitus, short-term dizziness, pain at the injection site.
Otoscopy investigation was normal. PTA revealed normal bilateral hearing with slight asymmetry on the right ear THI = 90/100 Psychoacoustic Measures of Tinnitus = 20 dB pure tone at 10,000 Hz THI (post-treatment) = 78/100
30 mg Deflazacort daily given orally for first 5 days followed by 15mg/daily dose for next 5 days.
Left tinnitus, hyperacusis, dysacusis. Reported fever, nausea, and local pain after dose administration that was treated with 1 × 1000 mg acetaminophen
Otoscopy was normal PTA showed normal bilateral hearing. THI = 78/100 THI (post-treatment) = 6/100
10 days course of oral prednisone at 50 mg/day for first 4 days followed by 25 mg/day for the next 3 days and 12.5 mg/day for the last 3 days.
THI: Tinnitus Handicap Inventory, PTA: Pure Tone Average, SiSi: Short increment Sensitivity index, SNLH: sensorineural hearing loss.
3. COVID-19 vaccines and their characteristics
Most of the current COVID-19 vaccines use the genetic code of spike protein to stimulate a protective immune reaction against coronavirus. The viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, sputnik, Janssen) incorporate spike protein gene into adenovirus DNA, which induces spike protein formation and hence antibodies, conferring protection against the virus. Conversely, mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) deliver messenger RNA for spike protein into the host cells, stimulating a protective response . Another category of COVID-19 vaccines (Sinopharm, Sinovac) employs a weakened or attenuated virus, capable of replication but not potent enough to cause the disease itself .
Moreover, research done after SARS-CoV-1 indicated the protective and long-lasting effect of T-cell immunity. The transfer of T-cells led to a swift viral clearance and disease elimination [23,24] Unlike antibody response, T cell memory can last longer as seen in SARS-CoV-1 when the immunity was even detected 4 years after the infection. Especially, Regulatory T cells play a vital role in resolving the infection, confirmed from the fact that they were found to be risen in COVID-19 patients . Along with them, circulating follicular T helper cells have been seen in individuals with COVID-19. They play a major role in representing antibody response to infection. Hence, despite no vaccine currently offering the T-cell response to COVID-19, there is a room to further investigations.
Listed in Table 2 are some of the most common vaccines currently used to counter the pandemic and their characteristics including mechanism of action, dosage, time between dosages, efficacy, general and serious adverse effects. What is of immense concern is the fact that despite a vast previous knowledge on T-cell immunity, none of the marketed vaccine is using it as a mechanism of their action. Hence, leaving room for further investigations.
Table 2. Table 2: Characteristics of COVID-19 vaccines.
Manufacturer & Country
Mechanism of Action
Doses – Time Between Doses
Serious Adverse Effects
BioNTech, Fosun Pharma, Pfizer – America and Germany
Mild pain at the injection site, fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches 
WHO: World Health Organization; CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Moreover, all the listed vaccines include the ones currently, accepted in many countries throughout the world. With frequent introduction of numerous vaccines in the market to combat the pandemic, there is a definite need to evaluate their characteristics in comparison and the better ones shall be publicly made available.
Tinnitus is defined as intermittent or continuous, unilateral or bilateral, pulsatile or non-pulsatile, acute or chronic, and subjective or objective [37,38]. There are several classifications categorizing tinnitus into numerous types, with each type associated with multiple potential etiologies. It can result from a lesion in the auditory pathway. Potential etiologies may include otitis externa, cerumen impaction, otosclerosis, otitis media, cholesteatoma, vestibular schwannoma, Meniere’s disease, colitis, neuritis, and ototoxic drugs [37,38]. The character of tinnitus can vary based on etiology. Furthermore, certain non-otologic conditions like vascular anomalies, myoclonus, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma can also contribute. Despite several cases of tinnitus being reported post-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, the precise pathophysiology is still not clear.
4.1. Molecular mimicry
Based on the mechanisms behind other COVID-19 vaccine-induced disorders (38, 39) and the phenomenon of molecular mimicry , a cross-reactivity between anti-spike SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and otologic antigens is a possibility. The heptapeptide resemblance between coronavirus spike glycoprotein and numerous human proteins further supports molecular mimicry as a potential mechanism behind such vaccine-induced disorders . Several autoimmune conditions, including vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT)  and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) , have been reported following coronavirus vaccination. Anti-spike antibodies may potentially react with antigens anywhere along the auditory pathway and initiate an inflammatory reaction involving the tympanic membrane, ossicular chain, cochlea, cochlear vessels, organ of Corti, etc. Therefore, understanding the phenomenon of cross-reactivity and molecular mimicry may be helpful in postulating potential treatment behind not only tinnitus but also the rare events of vaccination associated hearing loss and other otologic manifestations . Moreover, serologic investigations may play a role in understanding the underlying mechanism. Specific findings, such as raised anti-platelet factor 4, have been reported in cases of VITT post-COVID-19 vaccination .
4.2. Autoimmune reactions
Antibodies can form complexes with one or more antigens leading to a type III hypersensitivity reaction. Deposition of circulating immune complexes and vestibule-cochlear antibodies can play a role in autoimmune inner ear disease [43,44]. Incidence of pre-existing autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto thyroiditis and gastritis in patients, as shown in Table 1, further leaves patients prone to immune dysfunction and thus abnormal immune responses . However, future research should investigate the incidence of post-vaccination tinnitus in individuals with autoimmune diseases with a suitable control as all the currently reported patients were known cases of such conditions. Moreover, several potential genes, including Glial cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), potassium recycling pathway genes, 5-Hydroxytryptamine Receptor 7 (HTR7), Potassium Voltage Gated Channel Subfamily E Regulatory Subunit 3 (KCNE3), and a few others, have been studied to understand the underlying mechanism. However, the evidence is still insufficient to draw any conclusion . Therefore, genetic predisposition and immunologic pathways may play a role in post-vaccination-tinnitus.
4.3. Past medical history
Literature suggests a relationship between glaucoma and tinnitus, with glaucoma patients having 19% increased odds for tinnitus than in patients without it . The mechanism linking these disorders is ambiguous, but vascular dysregulation may play a significant role in causing both disorders. Nitric oxide (NO) production inhibition is a potential mechanism . NO is a regulator of intraocular pressure (IOP), thus linking defects in the nitric oxide guanylate cyclase (NO-GC) pathway with glaucoma . Furthermore, diminished jugular vein NO levels have been reported in tinnitus patients, leading to the reduced blood supply to the ears . As shown in Table 1, two of the reported cases had pre-existing glaucoma. Therefore, any potential association between vaccines and NO dysregulation should be investigated. Certain COVID-19 vaccines have been associated with vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia . Developing thrombus can reduce the blood supply to the ear and increase the probability of developing tinnitus. The existing literature lacks articles investigating associations between vaccines and NO levels. Therefore, the association of vaccines with NO deficiency in genetically susceptible patients should be investigated. Lastly, the association between vaccines and other vascular dysregulations must also be evaluated, as such abnormalities can disrupt laminar blood flow and cause pulsatile tinnitus .
Numerous drugs and chemical substances have been reported as ototoxic, causing damage to the auditory pathway and cochlear hair cells. Exposure to such agents, including aminoglycosides, vancomycin, platinum-based anticancer drugs, loop diuretics, quinine, toluene, styrene, lead, trichloroethylene, and others, may lead to tinnitus, hearing loss, and other otologic manifestations [37,49]. The mechanisms behind ototoxicity are not fully understood but may involve chemical and electrophysiological alterations in the inner ear structures and the eighth cranial nerve. Certain agents, including loop diuretics, incite such symptoms by inhibiting endolymph production from stria vascularis, whereas drugs like aminoglycosides and cisplatin are directly toxic to the hair cells the organ of Corti. Meanwhile, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) induce ototoxicity by reducing cochlear blood flow and alterations in the sensory cell functions . Hence, the possibility of one or more vaccine components exerting ototoxic effects cannot be written off and requires attention.
Furthermore, the current literature also proposes certain risk factors associated with drug-induced ototoxicity. For example, age, hypoalbuminemia, and uremia significantly increase the risk of developing NSAIDs induced ototoxicity. Similarly, erythromycin-related ototoxicity is more commonly associated with hepatic and renal failure, increasing age and female gender . Therefore, genetic predispositions and associated conditions may also play a significant role in determining the development of vaccine-induced tinnitus. As shown in Table 1, most of the cases reported till now were transient, which may be accountable to past administration of offending agents as seen in cases of erythromycin, aminoglycosides, vancomycin, and NSAIDs associated ototoxicity, which resolved upon early discontinuation of the inciting agent .
4.5. Psychological conditions
Anxiety-related adverse events (AEFI) following vaccination, defined by WHO, “a range of symptoms and signs that may arise around immunization that are related to anxiety and not to the vaccine product, a defect in the quality of the vaccine or an error of the immunization program” , have been witnessed in around 25% COVID-19 vaccination cases in India, as reported by Government of India, Ministry of health and family welfare, immunization division . These responses may include vasovagal mediated reactions, hyperventilation mediated reactions, and stress-related psychiatric reactions or disorders . Loharikar et al. , in their systematic review, reported common symptoms of it to be dizziness, headache, and fainting with rapid onset after vaccination. There are several speculations on the causative agents behind AEFIs after immunization. Since most of the vaccines are delivered through needles, it may be possible that trypanophobia, affecting at least 10% of the population around the globe , may trigger stress, hence leading to a stress-mediated response. Moreover, hearing or witnessing someone else’s sickness can lead to reporting similar symptoms, known as psychogenic illness, as reported by Blaine Ditto et al. . Hence, a possible connection can exist between people’s presumption and social media misinformation, leading to anxiety and possible adverse reaction.
Vaccine hesitancy, defined as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite the availability of vaccination services” , is a complex behavior, and the most common cause of it usually includes perceived risks vs. benefits, religious beliefs, and lack of knowledge . People with vaccine hesitancy may have pre-assumed beliefs. Hence, after getting vaccinated, there is a chance of facing AEFIs, with symptoms constellating stress. Numerous studies have demonstrated anxiety and stress as risk factors for tinnitus [17,19]. In one of the reported cases , the patient had a history of reactive depression. Therefore, the incidence of anxiety and stress disorders also need to be explored, with a particular emphasis on vaccine-related anxiety, as a potential cause of tinnitus developing post-vaccination.
While several suggested hypotheses exist, the precise mechanism behind vaccine-induced tinnitus remains undetermined, leaving room for future studies. Furthermore, as shown in Table 1, two reported cases had a medical history of otologic conditions involving recovered tinnitus and SNHL. Therefore, the possibility of vaccines aggravating underlying otologic disorders and exacerbating any morphologic damage also needs to be explored. Lastly, the character of tinnitus, including subjective or objective, intermittent or continuous, and pulsatile or non-pulsatile, can also give beneficial insight into understanding the involved sights and underlying mechanisms.
5. Clinical approach and management
To start the treatment regimen, it is crucial to determine a well-established diagnosis for Tinnitus. For this purpose, a well-focused and detailed history and examination are necessary . In case of vaccine-induced tinnitus, vaccine administered, days since dose administered to the onset of symptoms, and any other adverse effects experienced must be further added. Additionally, a particular emphasis must be placed on pre-existing health conditions, specifically autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto thyroiditis, otologic conditions like SNHL, glaucoma, and psychological well-being. All the reported patients presented with a history of one or more of the aforementioned disorders, as shown in Table 1. However, any such association has not yet been established and requires further investigation to be concluded as potential risk factors for vaccine-induced tinnitus. Routine cranial nerve examination, otoscopy, Weber’s test, and Rinne test, that are used for tinnitus diagnosis in general , may also be used for confirmation of the disorder post-vaccination. Due to the significant association between tinnitus and hearing impairment , audiology should be performed as well.
Tinnitus handicap inventory (THI), a reliable and valid questionnaire to evaluate tinnitus-related disability , is recommended by the tinnitus research initiative (TRI) . To date, it has been translated into numerous languages and is being used across the globe. In THI, the scores of 0, 2, and 4 are assigned to no, sometimes, and yes, respectively, to answer a subset of questions. The scores can vary from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating a more significant disability. Based on scores, the patients can be classified into five categories: Scores ranging between (1) 0 to 16 indicate no handicap, (2) 18 to 36 indicate mild handicap, (3) 38 to 56 indicate moderate, (4) 58 to 76 indicate severe handicap and (5) 78 to 100 indicate catastrophic handicap . This scale can be employed to evaluate both the severity of the condition and therapeutic response, as reported in the included studies [13,14].
While the treatment options for non-vaccine-induced tinnitus show a significant degree of variance, corticosteroids were the lead treatment choice for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine-induced tinnitus, as reported in both the included studies [13,14]. Based on the results, Tseng et al.  recommend immediate use of steroids for sudden onset tinnitus post-coronavirus vaccination. The reason may lie in their underlying immunosuppressive mechanism. After entering the cell, Corticosteroid forms a steroid-receptor complex in the cytoplasm, which then modifies transcription by incorporating itself into DNA. Hence playing their role in synthesizing or inhibiting certain proteins. A well-known protein synthesized by them is lipocortin, which inhibits Phospholipase A2, ultimately inhibiting arachidonic acid (AA) which leads to hampered Leukotrienes and Prostaglandins production. It also impedes mRNA that plays role in interleukin-1 formation  as well as sequestrate CD4+ T-lymphocytes in the reticuloendothelial system, all building up and leading to immunosuppression .
Although two out of four patients showed improvement following drug administration, the efficacy of steroid therapy is yet to be investigated in larger populations.
There is also a dire need to perform trials for other pharmacological interventions that can be administered in post-vaccine tinnitus. Numerous non-pharmacological (counseling, tinnitus retraining therapy, sound therapy, auditory perceptual training) as well pharmacological interventions (sodium channel blockers, anti-depressants, anti-convulsant, benzodiazepines, and several others) for treatment of tinnitus have been evaluated [16,65], however, there is insufficient data for tinnitus following vaccination, despite that vaccine-induced tinnitus have also been reported after hepatitis B, rabies, measles and (influenza A virus subtype) H1N1 vaccines, associated to Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) .
Thereby, deeming high-quality trials evaluating the efficacy of conventional treatment necessary. Lastly, the transient nature also requires special attention, as one of the patients recovered without any medication .
6. Adverse effects monitoring
Although the COVID-19 vaccines were approved after rigorous testing and trials, the center for disease control and prevention (CDC) has taken numerous initiatives to ensure a highly intensive safety monitoring program to determine potential adverse effects that may not be reported during clinal trials. Several vaccine safety monitoring systems are being employed, including the VAERS, v-safe, clinical immunization safety assessment (CISA) program, vaccine safety datalink (VSD), and a few others. This wide range of systems allows patients, attendants, and healthcare workers to report any side effects they have been experiencing following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. CDC and vaccine safety experts evaluate all the reports regularly and assess vaccines safety on their basis . Investigations into reported side effects are conducted to ensure vaccines safety, as was observed following cases of thrombotic thrombocytopenia, which led to a temporary ban on two vaccines and were only lifted once the vaccines demonstrated an acceptable safety profile. With already established benefits and such critical safety monitoring, the COVID-19 global vaccination program must be supported and appreciated for prioritizing public safety. However, such reporting systems may be more useful if there was a way to determine if the reported adverse events were vaccine-induced, exacerbated following vaccination, or due to some underlying pathology.
This review scrutinizes the currently available literature and highlights potential pathophysiology and clinical approaches to diagnose and manage vaccine-induced tinnitus. Although the incidence of COVID-19 vaccine-associated tinnitus is rare, there is an overwhelming need to discern the precise pathophysiology and clinical management as a better understanding of adverse events may help in encountering vaccine hesitancy and hence fostering the COVID-19 global vaccination program. Despite the incidence of adverse events, the benefits of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in reducing hospitalization and deaths continue to outweigh the rare ramifications.
This study carries some limitations. Firstly, given the limited number of cases reported, there is an imperative need to overcome the paucity of data and evaluate the impact of different COVID-19 vaccines, type of tinnitus, response to conventional treatment options, and reversible nature of the condition. Secondly, all the patients evaluated reported substantial past medical history and carried a high risk of immune dysregulation; therefore, the role of genetic predisposition and underlying conditions requires special surveillance, which can help redefine vaccine administration criteria to avoid any further cases.
Department of Internal Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatarzohaib.firstname.lastname@example.org
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