April 27, 2023

Association of COVID-19 infection, vaccination with Bell’s palsy

Editor's Note

This meta-analysis by researchers from Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran; Harvard Medical School, Boston; and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, finds a greater risk for Bell's palsy with COVID-19 infection, compared with COVID-19 vaccination.

A total of 50 studies were included in the analysis with pooled data on more than 53 million vaccine doses.

The researchers found:

  • significantly more Bell's palsy in COVID-19 vaccine recipients vs placebo recipients
  • no significant increase in Bell's palsy after Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination vs no vaccination
  • no significant difference in Bell's palsy in first-dose recipients of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine vs Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • Bell's palsy was significantly more common after COVID-19 infection than after COVID-19 vaccination, with a 3.23-fold increase after infection.

The researchers conclude that COVID-19 infection posed a significantly greater risk for Bell's palsy than COVID-19 vaccination. Further research is needed to verify the association and investigate possible mechanisms, they say.


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