facial paralysis more common in infected than in vaccinated

THE ESSENTIAL

  • Bell’s palsy is not believed to be a side effect of the Covid-19 vaccine
  • Patients infected with Covid-19 are at greater risk of developing Bell’s palsy than those who have been vaccinated

Bell’s palsy is the most common peripheral facial palsy. This is also called idiopathic facial paralysis or from the cold. According to a study published in the journal Jama Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, people who have been infected with Covid-19 are more likely to develop this pathology, compared to those who have been vaccinated.

Bell’s palsy, the most common peripheral facial palsy

According to the health insurance website, Bell’s palsy accounts for 72% of peripheral facial palsy. It would affect between 15 and 30 people in 100,000 and would be as common in men as in women. In the majority of cases, this pathology appears around the age of forty. It happens suddenly when a nerve in the face is inflamed or swollen. Thus, the individual usually has symptoms like facial paralysis or loss of control of muscles on one side of the face, difficulty smiling or closing the affected eye. These manifestations are usually accompanied by pain in the jaw, ear or head. Most often, Bell’s palsy resolves naturally after a few weeks or months and treatments can speed up this process. So far, the cause (s) of this disease remains unknown and most patients have no sequelae.

No more cases of Bell’s palsy after vaccine

The question the authors wanted to answer was whether the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was associated with an increased risk of peripheral facial nerve palsy? This disease has been diagnosed in a small number of vaccine recipients and is therefore believed to be a side effect. Specifically, in Phase 3 clinical trials, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines found that approximately 19 in 100,000 people developed Bell’s palsy. The researchers therefore wanted to dig and analyzed the clinical data of more than 348,000 patients who had been infected with Covid-19 and about 64,000 who had been vaccinated. According to their results, no association between acute facial paralysis and recent vaccination was observed. In addition, despite rapid and widespread vaccination of the population, a similar volume of admissions for facial palsy was observed compared to the same period in previous years.

More cases of Bell’s palsy in Covid-19 positive patients

At the start of vaccine availability, several media reported Bell’s palsy associated with vaccination, explains Dr Akina Tamaki, one of the authors, to the UPI news site. Such concerns could erode confidence in the vaccine and exacerbate public reluctance. Our data suggests Bell’s palsy rates are higher in Covid-19 positive patients and this incidence exceeds the reported incidence … with the vaccineTo date, therefore, no scientific evidence has established a link between Bell’s palsy and the vaccine against Covid-19.