What do we know about the relationship between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and Bell’s palsy?

Social media users, keen on everything surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, are profusely sharing news about a possible link between Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines with Bell’s palsy, a generally temporary syndrome that affects half of the face.

Many share shocking images of patients with the disease that do not really correspond to people vaccinated against COVID-19.

This is what we know about the possible – although it seems remote – relationship between Bell syndrome and vaccines.

  • The origin of this relationship is found in a note from the FDA, the US drug agency, which asks health professionals for particular “vigilance” about possible cases among vaccinated people, after the large-scale use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has been authorized. The Federal Drugs Administration he is studying to approve the Moderna vaccine this Thursday.
  • The FDA relies on the results of clinical trials, not on cases that were found during vaccination.
  • According to the FDA, Moderna detected four cases of Bell’s palsy among its more than 22,600 participants. One of them had not even received the vaccine, only the placebo. The FDA believes that all of them had possible conditions that predisposed them to suffer from the syndrome but that a relationship cannot be totally ruled out.
  • In the case of Pfizer / BioNTech, four cases – all of them vaccinated – were detected among its more than 43,448 participants, without sufficient data to establish a cause-effect relationship.

The FDA itself considers that the rate of Bell’s palsy cases matches the incidence of this syndrome in the general population “and there is no clear basis to conclude a causal relationship at this time, but the FDA will recommend surveillance of cases of Bell’s palsy with the deployment of the vaccine in larger populations “says the note.

  • Bell’s palsy or syndrome is a condition of the nerve that regulates the facial muscles. It is not known for sure, but it is believed to be caused by inflammation of the nerve related to viral infections and / or immune system dysfunctions.

  • It can affect people of any age, but it is more common in those over 65. It is also more common in people with diabetes or pregnant women.

  • It is generally a mild condition that clears up on its own in about a month. Full recovery can take up to six months.

In fact the incidence of death among volunteers is much higher than that of Bell’s palsy. Among the Moderna volunteers, 13 people died: 6 had received the vaccine and 7 the placebo. Among those from Pfizer / BioNTech, six people died. Four of them had received the placebo.

In the absence of more data, deaths, cases of Bell’s palsy or allergic reactions do not seem to worry the experts. Everything indicates that these are quite common situations in the development and testing of any vaccine or drug.

Only, never before has so much attention been paid to every detail of the process.