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No Excess Risk for Neurologic Events Observed to Date from COVID-19 Vaccines

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​Anthony Fauci, MD, called Neurology Today in mid-January to set the record straight on a question regarding the vaccines for SARS-CoV-2. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that he had misspoken in an early December newscast when he said that people who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) should avoid the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines because they might trigger a recurrence of the disease.

Dr. Fauci’s earlier statement prompted the publication on December 21 of an open letter coauthored by 13 leading experts in GBS and related disorders. The letter noted that no instances of GBS were seen during clinical trials of the two vaccines, that no published studies suggest any cause for concern, and that neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends against the vaccine due to GBS.

Dr. Fauci, who had not previously responded to the letter, told Neurology Today: “That [interview] was conducted at a time before the CDC came out with their clear recommendations. As soon as the CDC recommendations came out, I began advising people according to the recommendations. I do stand corrected.”

Several neurologists, including three of the coauthors of the open letter to Dr. Fauci, told Neurology Today that misunderstandings about the potential for neurological risks associated with the vaccines are common. As a result, they said, many of their patients have expressed fears about taking the vaccines. “I’m hearing from my patients who are worried about it,” said Richard A. Lewis, MD, FAAN, professor of neurology and director of the Electromyography Laboratory at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. As a signatory to the letter to Dr. Fauci, he said, “I personally have been very concerned about the large number of people who are not taking the vaccine when they could. My belief and that of the others who signed the letter is that it’s in everyone’s best interest to get one of the vaccines.”

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