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ABSTRACTOBJECTIVEWe aimed to study the association between COVID-19 vaccines, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the risk of immune-mediated neurological events.METHODSDesignPopulation-based historical rate comparison study and self-controlled case series (SCCS) analysis.SettingPrimary care records from the United Kingdom.ParticipantsIndividuals who received the first dose of ChAdOx1 or BNT162b2 between 8 December 2020 and 6 March 2021. A cohort with a first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 between 1 September 2020 and 28 February 2021 was used for comparison.Main outcome measuresOutcomes included Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), Bell’s palsy, encephalomyelitis, and transverse myelitis.Incidence rates were estimated in the 28 days post first-dose vaccine, 90 days post-COVID-19, and between 2017 to 2019 for the general population cohort for background rates. Indirectly standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were estimated. Adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated from the SCCS when sufficient statistical power was reached.ResultsWe included 1,868,767 ChAdOx1 and 1,661,139 BNT162b2 vaccinees; 299,311 people infected with COVID-19; and 2,290,537 from the general population. SIRs for GBS were 1.91 [95% CI: 0.86 to 4.26] after ChAdOx1, 1.29 [0.49 to 3.45] after BNT162b2, and 5.20 [1.95 to 13.85] after COVID-19. In the same cohorts, SIRs for Bell’s palsy were 1.34 [1.05 to 1.72], 1.15 [0.88 to 1.50], and 1.23 [0.80 to 1.89], and for encephalomyelitis 1.62 [0.61 to 4.31], 0.86 [0.22 to 3.46], and 11.05 [5.27 to 23.17], respectively. Transverse myelitis was too rare to analyse (n<5 in all cohorts). SCCS analysis was only conducted for Bell’s palsy due to limited statistical power. We found no association between either vaccine and Bell’s palsy, with an IRR of 1.10 [0.81 to 1.46] and 1.15 [0.87 to 1.49] for BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1, respectively.ConclusionsWe found no consistent association between either vaccine and any of the studied neuroimmune adverse events studied. Conversely, we found a 5-fold increase in risk of GBS and an 11-fold of encephalomyelitis following COVID-19.

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