Oddly, CBS furnished this ringing endorsement shortly after Oxford and AstraZeneca called a temporary halt to their clinical trials in five countries. The brief hold was prompted by a UK participant’s report, after her second dose of vaccine, of a serious adverse event—a demyelinating condition called transverse myelitis (TM) associated with pain, muscle weakness, paralysis and bowel and bladder problems. Two-thirds of those who experience TM remain permanently disabled. Belatedly, AstraZeneca also disclosed that the September pause was actually the second time-out in two months. The first incident, which initially went unpublicized, occurred in July when another UK participant experienced TM after one dose of vaccine and ended up with a brand-new diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). TM is well recognized as sometimes being “the first symptom of an autoimmune or immune-mediated disease such as multiple sclerosis.”
Based on analysis of information posted at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims website, conditions involving demyelination and paralysis—TM, ADEM, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)—are among the top vaccine injuries for which Americans (primarily adults) have filed claims with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). GBS is currently the NVICP’s second most compensated vaccine injury. Of the 330 TM-related petitions adjudicated to date, the program has awarded approximately $150 million in damages to 266 claimants (including estimated annuities), while dismissing 55 claims and leaving 9 still pending.
In prior years, most NVICP claimants linked their TM to hepatitis B vaccines, but in more recent years, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) and influenza vaccines have become the principal suspects. A systematic review of TM case reports gleaned from 1970–2009 corroborates these claims, identifying 37 cases of TM associated with multiple vaccines given to infants, children and adults (including hepatitis B, measles-mumps-rubella and DTP) and showing that TM symptoms can arise anywhere from several days to several months and possibly several years post-vaccination. A more recent report by some of the same researchers also describes a case of TM following H1N1 influenza vaccination.
Twenty-one different vaccine package inserts list GBS (also characterized by muscle weakness and paralysis) as an adverse event.