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In individual cases dizziness and palpitations : Allergic reaction to the corona vaccine - that could be the trigger

You really have to be very sure that there is something to this story before you talk about it as if it was already a done deal. This is how Alkis Togias from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the USA said in the journal "Science". It's about allergic reactions of six of the 272,000 Americans vaccinated with the Biontech vaccine by December 19. Two more of these "anaphylactic" reactions had occurred in vaccinated people in the UK.

Because the Biontech vaccine is a novel, RNA-based vaccination technique, it must be "carefully checked," said Elizabeth Philips of Vanderbilt University by the magazine.

However, the RNA itself is not suspected - human cells are naturally full of this type of molecule. Rather, it's a carrier, polyethylene glycol (PEG). It is part of tiny nanoparticles with which the RNA gets into the cells of the vaccinated. It's a commonplace chemical found in toothpaste and shampoo.

The RNA vaccine from Moderna, which is to be vaccinated in the USA in the next few days, also contains PEG. The substance is also used as a carrier substance in drugs, but not yet in vaccines. Allergic reactions, on the other hand, were recorded sporadically.

Allergic reactions when vaccinated: One in a million

As in a recent case that made headlines on Christmas Day in the United States: According to a newspaper report, the vaccine from Moderna caused a serious allergic reaction in a doctor in Boston. The oncologist from Boston Medical Center, who is allergic to shellfish, reported in the New York Times that he felt dizzy and had a racing heart immediately after the vaccination on Thursday.

A Boston Medical Center spokesman said the doctor had been treated and has now been discharged from the hospital. "He's fine." It is the first public case of an allergic reaction to the Moderna vaccine, which was approved in the US for a week.

Anaphylactic reactions, for example in the form of brief skin rashes, can be mild, but seldom can also be life-threatening, with circulatory collapse, shortness of breath and palpitations. They occur about once in every million people who are vaccinated - one of the reasons why people who are vaccinated should stay with the doctor for a while after the bite. In the event of such a reaction, help can be provided quickly and effectively.

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Whether PEG is really the trigger of the eight anaphylactic reactions that occurred in connection with the vaccination is completely open.

Nevertheless, the NIAID probably discussed the cases in several meetings, including with representatives from Pfizer, the cooperation partner of Biontech. A study is also planned to specifically examine people whose immune system (unlike most people) have antibodies against PEG or who have previously reacted to PEG-containing drugs.

It is important to note: Even if - and this is still completely open - there should be a connection between the PEG and the allergic reactions, this does not mean that every allergy sufferer who reacts to grass, pollen, house dust or other could not get the vaccine or should. If anything, very few people are likely to have an immune system that reacts particularly violently to PEG.

No reason not to get vaccinated

Nevertheless, there are good reasons to keep an eye on allergic reactions in the vaccinated.

In the studies by Biontech and Moderna with over 30,000 test subjects, those who had already shown allergic reactions to other vaccinations were excluded. Allergy sufferers who react to certain foods, for example, were involved, but may not be sufficiently representative.

In addition, according to a study, around 72 percent of all people have antibodies against PEG - the immune system reacts to the substance that enters the body via toothpaste. But only seven percent have so many antibodies that an allergic reaction to PEG would be possible. However, other studies show that even people with high levels of antibodies to PEG do not always develop an allergic reaction to the substance.

As is often the case, more research is needed to know more. However, the matter is not a reason not to get vaccinated.

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