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Severe allergic reactions to Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine are extremely rare, scientists say

Medical doctor or laborant holding tube with anti Coronavirus vaccine. Concept of Covid-19 treatment and prevention.

Only one in every hundred thousand people on average who received the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine had severe allergic reactions.

U.S. health officials stressed last Wednesday that the benefits of being immune to the vaccine vastly outweigh the known risks of the vaccine.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 21 cases of anaphylaxis were documented after the administration of 1,893,360 vaccines reported from December 14 to December 23. An average of 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis occurred in each million doses administered.

Normally, the flu vaccine causes about 1.3 cases of anaphylaxis per every million doses administered. Compared to the flu vaccine, the anaphylaxis rate in the Pfizer vaccine is about ten times higher.

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Benefits of the vaccine

For better prevention, two doses of vaccine are required. After completing two doses, it may take another week or two to achieve maximum protection against COVID-19. Currently, there is no information about long-term protection with this vaccine, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Although the probability is low, you can become COVID-19 even after vaccination. It is important to continue with public health measures such as physical distance, wearing masks and staying at home if you are ill. Health care workers and other personnel should continue to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) even after vaccination.

Side effects

All but two of the 21 cases between the ages of 27 and 60 (the average age of 40) were treated with epinephrine. 19 cases (90% of cases) treated with epinephrine consist of women. Symptoms in cases start in an average of 13 minutes, and the initial time varies between 2 and 150 minutes.

4 cases (19% of cases) were hospitalized, 3 of them in intensive care, the remaining 17 cases (81% of cases) were treated in the emergency department. During the investigation process, all but one of the cases were sent home or recovered and died during the investigation.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis in cases include rash and redness of the skin, a feeling of congestion in the throat, swelling of the tongue and lips, urticaria, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, nausea and a stubborn dry cough.

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Risk and benefit analysis

According to Christian Bogdan, a member of the Permanent Commission on vaccines at the Robert-Koch Institute, the decision to get vaccinated is based on a risk-benefit analysis in a general sense. “If an elderly person with a 20 percent risk of death if they are infected with coronavirus is vaccinated, the risk of serious side effects is 1 in 50 thousand, it is necessary to take this risk,” he told the German news agency. Bogdan, on the other hand, notes that vaccination of children is not necessary, since the probability of death of children due to Covid-19 is almost zero.

In addition, the expert notes that pregnant and lactating women should not be vaccinated due to the lack of data on this issue. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that pregnant and lactating women do not mind being vaccinated with mRNA vaccines on the advice of a doctor.

Looking at ongoing research;

The United States has so far authorized the use of two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, in an emergency. Both vaccines are based on state-of-the-art mRNA (Messenger ribonucleic acid) technology, and authorities have added warning labels to both vaccines advising people with a known history of allergic reactions to substances contained in the vaccines to avoid taking the vaccine.

In addition, people who overreacted to the first dose were also warned not to take the second dose in the same way.

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There is not enough information yet to indicate the frequency of anaphylaxis caused by the Moderna vaccine, which is authorized to be used by the United States one week after the Pfizer vaccine, or the possible significant differences that may arise between the two vaccines. One preliminary hypothesis in reaction formation is the presence of polyethylene glycol (PEG), the compound that has never been used in a previously approved vaccine but is found in everyday products such as laxatives, shampoos and toothpastes.

References:

COVID-19 Vaccines | Toronto Public Health (PDF)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine | NHS

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