Many of us would cringe at seeing statistics of COVID vaccine side effects. However, if you look closely, the side effects are very rare. This article tackles the subject looking at the stats.
For example, I’ve read Matt Windsor’s report that one of the COVID vaccine side effects shows in 100 out of 12 million shots. That’s for Johnson and Johnson’s one dose vaccine being associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome or GBS. That means 0.00083 % of those inoculated with the COVID vaccine can have such side effect. Even if you add the unreported ones, the probability is still very low.
But of course, who wants to become a part of that 0.00083 %. What if you happen to be that person? How will you deal with Guillan-Barré Syndrome if you happen to be one of those affected?
Let’s see what information we can get about this syndrome.
What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
According to Mayo Clinic, a person afflicted with the Guillain-Barré Syndrome initially experiences weakness and tingling sensation in the extremities. That’s because the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. It’s an autoimmune disease. The body attacks itself, mistaking the nerves as foreign bodies: a bacteria or a virus.
Oh my gosh! Can we do something about it? Does it resolve by itself?
Nobody knows what causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but many of those who experienced the condition had an infection prior to diagnosis of the disease. If it becomes severe, it’s time to see your doctor right away. Chances are, you will get hospitalized; which is another problem during the pandemic if the hospitals are filled with patients.
You risk getting the live virus on top of the inactivated one in the COVID vaccine. And having all those news about the Delta variant, Lambda, and what-not that might circumvent the vaccine protection. When will the COVID variants stop mutating?
When will this scourge of mankind ever end? We are fighting an invisible foe that hits whenever given an opportunity.
The pandemic gets to my nerves. And all this stuff about COVID vaccine side effects.
I hope not of getting this Guillain-Barré syndrome. So far, I’m just fine after more than five weeks after my second dose of Sinovac.
For health professionals or medical students who would like to understand the technical, jargon-filled explanation of the Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you may listen to the following video. I can understand the explanation as I was a pre-med student, but for those who have no medical background, I do not recommend that you listen to the video.
Somehow the video tells me that the numbness experience I have had at the onset may have manifested Guillain-Barré symptoms. After listening intently and viewing the video, it dawned upon me that the mechanism of the body’s immune response mimics that of a bacterial or viral infection.
I did have a virus introduced to my system as I got inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine almost three weeks ago. I had numbness in my extremities. It must be my immune system attacking the nerves, but it got averted along the way.
Our body is complex, and it would not be easy to explain these things without in-depth study.
Probability of Dying due to the Debilitating Effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Most of the people who had the syndrome recover. Around 4 to 7% die. There’s that dying chance again.
Thinking of the stats again, that’s less than 50% anyway. Again, that may be a cause for worry as there’s still that possibility. What if it happens to be me? Or you? I feel so helpless thinking about these things.
Although I have experienced a similar creeping numbness 19 days after my second dose of the Sinovac vaccine, it appears that I have completely recovered as the side effect lasted only two days.
Anyway, the chance of getting the Guillain-Barré syndrome appears to be remote. I’d better dismiss that idea. Besides, my vaccine’s not a J & J vaccine. But COVID vaccines may be working similarly as all are based on the same genetic code of SARS-COV2.
How do we respond to information on COVID vaccine side effects?
I would say that the more I read about the COVID vaccine side effects, the more I get anxious about the side effects. There appear to be short-term and long-term effects to watch out for.
We don’t exactly know what to expect as each one of us is unique. We do not have the same tolerance of the COVID-19 vaccines. For some people, COVID vaccine side effects do not manifest at all.
If we want to be practical about it and face the risks of getting inoculated, the benefits of vaccination appear to be greater than the risk of getting COVID-19 and suffer its serious health consequences. We may or may not survive the severe symptoms which many people have failed to overcome. That’s a 50-50 probability that we might have severe COVID-19 symptoms if we don’t want to get vaccinated.
The COVID vaccine side effects are very rare compared to the higher possibility of dying due to COVID-19 infection. That’s the reality.
Be realistic; see the stats
As a matter of introspection and being pragmatic about it, I believe it helps to look at the COVID vaccine side effects stats objectively. To see the possibilities in a better light, I provide a graphical representation of the probability of getting Guillain-Barré syndrome associated with J & J vaccine. Visualization clarifies the possibility of being afflicted by COVID vaccine side effects.
Using MS Excel to create a pie graph, here’s how it looks (Fig. 1).
The number of cases wouldn’t even reflect as part of the pie! It’s virtually 0% percent. And out of this 0%, the chance of dying due to the Guillain-Barré syndrome is 5 to 7%. There’s a very slim chance that you would have it and consequently die because of it. Somehow, this will ease you from being too anxious about getting vaccinated.
If you look at the number of side effects of other COVID-19 vaccines, you will notice that the number of side effects is either relatively small or very rare. Besides, no remedy is fail-safe. But the outcome of our vaccine technology has very high efficiency.
Just think that there is a greater chance that you will not experience the COVID vaccine side effects as you thought it would. We need to take some degree of risk to reap the benefits in any area of our life.
I will update this article once in a while to keep track of the COVID vaccine side effects which everyone, particularly those who have not been vaccinated yet, has been so concerned about.
© P. A. Regoniel 26 July 2021