About 110 people in Mexico have had an allergic reaction to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, a federal health official said Monday.
Ruy López Ridaura, director of the Health Ministry’s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control Programs, said that 80% of the allergic reactions have been mild and that only five people needed hospitalization, four of whom were discharged in a matter of hours.
Mexico began vaccinating health workers on December 24 and by Tuesday morning more than 44,000 had received their first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
López Ridaura noted that Karla Cecilia Pérez Osorio – a 32-year-old doctor in Monclova, Coahuila – had a severe allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine on December 30 and required treatment in intensive care. The case is under investigation, he said.
At the same coronavirus press briefing, Mexican Social Security Institute official Víctor Hugo Borja said that Pérez, who contracted Covid-19 in April, suffered convulsions and suspected encephalomyelitis – inflammation of the brain and spinal cord – after receiving a dose of the Covid vaccine.
She was transferred to a specialty hospital in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and has gradually recovered.
Pérez is no longer suffering convulsions, Borja said, adding that her muscle strength has improved and that she’s “awake, conscious and well-oriented.”
He said that all health workers who have received the vaccine have subsequently been observed for 20 to 30 minutes, explaining that in the case of Pérez,“we detected an adverse effect … [and she] reported that she was allergic to sulfa drugs and has a family history of allergies.”
“Twenty minutes after vaccination she developed an allergic reaction characterized by swelling of the tongue and lips and a rash on her neck and chest. … A doctor administered a medication that immediately allowed her to recover from these symptoms,” Borja said.
However, 1 1/2 hours after Pérez was vaccinated she suffered a convulsion and was treated at her workplace, a hospital in Monclova. She was transferred to the Monterrey hospital on December 31 and suffered more convulsions on January 1 before undergoing a blood plasma treatment known as plasmapheresis.
“What is done is the liquid part of the blood is extracted … and [virus] antibodies are removed and this reduces the [allergic] reaction that was possibly caused by the antibodies,” Borja said.
“The diagnosis at that time was an allergic reaction to the vaccine, that’s confirmed. … What isn’t confirmed is the [cause of the] other reaction that caused the convulsions and reduction of muscle strength, … that’s what is still being studied.”
Borja added that all vaccines have the potential to cause adverse reactions, explaining that in rare cases the effects can be serious.
Adverse reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have also been reported in other countries that have begun administering it.
Mexico has a deal to buy 34.4 million doses of the product, which was 95% effective in phase 3 trials and caused no serious safety concerns, according to Pfizer. The health regulatory agency Cofepris gave emergency approval for the vaccine last month.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell announced Monday that Cofepris had also approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine, of which the government has agreed to purchase 77.4 million doses. He said that immunization with that vaccine, which is cheaper than that made by Pfizer and can be transported and stored at regular fridge temperatures, could begin in March.
The government presented a multi-stage national vaccination plan last month that prioritizes the early inoculation of health workers and the elderly.
Government officials and many ordinary citizens in Mexico are eagerly awaiting the wider rollout of vaccines as the country has been affected more than most by the coronavirus pandemic.
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that Mexico currently ranks 13th for confirmed cases, with 1.45 million as of Monday, and fourth for Covid-19 fatalities with an official death toll of 127,757.
Source: Milenio (sp)