COVID-19 Vaccination and Neurological Manifestations: A Review of Case Reports and Case Series

Brain Sci. 2022 Mar 18;12(3):407. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12030407.


Background: With 10 vaccines approved by the WHO and nearly 48% of people fully vaccinated worldwide, we have observed several individual case studies of neurological manifestations post-COVID-19 vaccination. Through this systematic review, we aim to discern these CNS and PNS manifestations following the COVID-19 vaccine to help produce methods to mitigate them.

Methods: We conducted a thorough literature search of Google Scholar and PubMed from 1 December 2020 until 10 October 2021 and included all the case studies of COVID-19 vaccine-associated neurological side effects. The literature search and data analysis were performed by two independent reviewers according to prespecified inclusion and exclusion criteria using PRISMA.

Results: The most common CNS manifestation was CVST (14.47%), found in females (64%) younger than 50 years (71%) after the first AstraZeneca dose (93%). Others included CNS demyelinating disorders (TM, ADEM, MS, NMOSD) (9.30%), encephalopathy/encephalitis (3.10%), and others (4.13%). The most common PNS manifestation was GBS (14.67%) found in males (71%) older than 50 years (79%), followed by Bell's palsy (5.24%) and others (2.10%). Most occurred with the AstraZeneca (28.55%), Pfizer-BioNTech (9.18%), and Moderna (8.16%) vaccines. Nine (64%) out of the 14 patients with CVST died. However, most cases overall (42 out of 51) were non-fatal (82%).

Conclusion: Several CNS and PNS adverse events have occurred post-COVID-19 vaccination, including CVST, GBS, and TM. High vigilance with early identification and treatment leads to better outcomes. Further studies with non-vaccinated controls might help in understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms of these neurological manifestations following COVID-19 vaccination.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccination; GBS; Janssen/Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccine; Moderna; Pfizer BioNTech; transverse myelitis.

Publication types

  • Review