Twelve people had facial paralysis following Covid-19 vaccination

Hong KongTwelve people suffer from Bell’s Palsy hemiplegia, which is rare and usually resolves on its own in about two to three weeks, following Covid-19 vaccination.

Mr. Wilson Lam, 26, woke up at the hospital and was shocked when his face was almost completely numb. Lam got the Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine on March 24 and fainted outside the vaccination center. “I can’t close my left eye, and my mouth is twisted to the right. So I can only chew food on that side. I’m getting better now,” he said.

Lam shared that he did not like any specific vaccine maker, only chose a vaccination center near his home. Lam arrived at the vaccination site at Tseung Kwan O Sports Center at 2:30 p.m. March 24. 15 minutes after the injection, he felt dizzy and fainted when he came out of the center at 3 o’clock. Lam was taken to the hospital immediately.

He can’t control his left eye. The swelling around his eyes was relieved, but he could not close his eyes. He still feels dizziness and pain in his chest.

“I’m worried and scared. Unlike the post-injection deaths, I don’t have a chronic illness. I play soccer and run a lot. Basically, I’m a healthy person,” he said. “It would be great if the authorities could give me an explanation. The disease really affects my livelihood and I never know it will ever recover.”

He plans to ask the authorities for compensation and say “I am the unlucky one”.

Wilson Lam, 26, experienced facial paralysis following Covid-19 vaccination. Image: Handout

Lam is the 12th person to experience a temporary facial nerve paralysis, also known as Bell’s Palsy, after being vaccinated with Covid-19, according to Hong Kong health officials. The others were all male, aged between 37 and 86, including 11 people who received the Sinovac vaccine, one who received the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Bell’s Palsy is a temporary, facial disorder. Accordingly, the nerve that controls the muscle on one side of the face is damaged, resulting in weakness or paralysis, causing the affected side to sag. The exact cause of Bell’s Palsy is unclear (usually viral), so there is no effective prevention and treatment.

The disease usually resolves on its own. On average, 7 out of 10 people who get the disease recover completely without treatment. Symptoms improve after two to three weeks, in some cases lasting up to 6 months.

Bell’s Palsy Syndrome on the list of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine side effects. In December 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted four volunteers after injecting Pfizer-BioNTech developed Bell’s Palsy facial paralysis.

However, Hong Kong health experts did not find a direct link between 12 cases of Bell’s Palsy and the vaccine.

According to Professor David Hui Shu, a government adviser on Covid-19, there is no evidence that the vaccine causes Bell’s palsy. “There is no good reason for the vaccine to affect the seventh nerve,” he said.

In addition to post-vaccination cases, Bell’s Palsy occurs in about 23 out of 100,000 people in Hong Kong, according to Hui. The facial nerve swelling and inflammation, he said, can cause the nerve to temporarily lose its function.

Professor noted that Bell’s palsy is usually caused by the herpes virus, patients need to take antiviral drugs and steroids to reduce swelling of the facial nerve. “Even when no one is vaccinated against Covid-19, facial nerve paralysis occurs due to many different viruses,” he said. According to him, most patients will recover within a few weeks if treated early.

Immunization monitoring experts in Hong Kong continue to monitor the situation. Experts advise authorities and manufacturers to update vaccine information if the number of people vaccinated show symptoms of Bell’s palsy higher than the proportion of people with the disease in the general community.

Before the mass vaccination campaign began on February 26, the Hong Kong government announced that it would spend $ 128 million to compensate people with side effects after vaccination. There is a two-year deadline to file a claim from each person from the vaccination.

Mai Dung (According to the SCMP)


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