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Guillain-Barre Syndrome

  • 13 Jul 2023
  • 4 min read

Source: DTE

Why in News?

Peru has declared a 90-day national health emergency in response to a recent surge in Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) cases, raising concerns about the potential connection between GBS and Covid-19.

  • Notably, Peru experienced a large outbreak of GBS in 2019 as well, with 683 suspected or confirmed cases during a specific period.

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

  • About: GBS is a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system. It initially presents weakness, tingling, and numbness in the limbs, which can progress to paralysis lasting 6-12 months or longer.
    • The syndrome affects the nerves responsible for muscle movement, pain, temperature, and touch sensations.
    • While more common in adults and males, GBS can occur in individuals of all ages.
  • Cause: The exact cause of GBS is unknown, but as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), GBS is often preceded by an infection. This could be a bacterial or viral infection. This leads the immune system to attack the body itself.
    • In rare cases, vaccinations and surgery may slightly increase the risk of developing GBS, but the likelihood of this happening is very low.
    • Studies have shown that the risk of getting GBS from infections like the flu is much higher than the risk from vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
  • Treatment: GBS treatment involves procedures like plasmapheresis, which removes plasma and replaces it with other fluids.
  • GBS and Covid-19: GBS cases have been reported in both adults and children with Covid-19. Also, there have been concerns about cases of GBS following administration of Covid-19 vaccines.
    • About 100 suspected cases of GBS were identified among the 12.8 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (viral vector vaccine).
      • Some cases of GBS have also been reported after receiving the Pfizer(mRNA vaccine) and AstraZeneca (viral vector vaccine) as well.
    • A subcommittee of the WHO found that rare cases of GBS have been reported with adenovirus vector Covid-19 vaccines, but not with mRNA vaccines.
    • However, recent studies suggest despite these potential side effects, the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination outweigh the risks.
      • The incidence rate of GBS after SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination is low.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements: (2022)

  1. The Serum Institute of India produced COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using mRNA platform.
  2. Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using vector-based platform.
  3. COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen-based vaccine.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)

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