As of April 22, 2021, around 1.5 million individuals in three districts of Kerala, India had been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines. Over 80% of these individuals (1.2 million) received the ChAdOx1-S/nCoV-19 vaccine. In this population, during this period of 4 weeks (mid-March to mid-April 2021), we observed seven cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) that occurred within 2 weeks of the first dose of vaccination. All seven patients developed severe GBS. The frequency of GBS was 1.4- to 10-fold higher than that expected in this period for a population of this magnitude. In addition, the frequency of bilateral facial weakness, which typically occurs in <20% of GBS cases, suggests a pattern associated with the vaccination. While the benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh the risk of this relatively rare outcome (5.8 per million), clinicians should be alert to this possible adverse event, as six out of seven patients progressed to areflexic quadriplegia and required mechanical ventilatory support. ANN NEUROL 2021;90:312-314.
© 2021 American Neurological Association.