Bonn Professor Thomas Bieber, Head of the Allergy Clinic at the University Hospital, only expects an allergic reaction to the vaccination in rare cases. So for a few patients, he would not recommend the injection.
Two health care workers in Alaska have experienced severe side effects after being vaccinated with the new vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer. According to the New York Times, one middle-aged woman went into anaphylactic shock. She had no history of allergies. Quite different, then, from two NHS workers in the UK who also experienced allergic reactions after being vaccinated the week before. Both were allergy sufferers. Andreas Baumann spoke about the British cases with Professor Thomas Bieber, Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology and Allergology at the University Hospital Bonn.
Do the two cases reveal something about the safety of the vaccine?
Bieber: These were apparently anaphylactic reactions in people who have already shown severe allergic reactions in the past. They are among those who have to carry an emergency kit with cortisone, antihistamines and an adrenaline injection. In the trials of this vaccine, about 0.6 per cent of those who received the drug had an allergic reaction (not necessarily severe). In those who received a placebo, it was also only 0.5 percent. So there was no significant difference. Allergic reactions are only very rarely expected.
So the all-clear?
Bieber: Yes. However, there are currently three exceptions, in my opinion: Firstly, people with proven severe allergies, i.e. those who have suffered from anaphylactic reactions in the past and therefore carry an emergency kit. Secondly, patients suffering from a very rare disease called mastocytosis. Thirdly, people who have a proven allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol. To put it simply, this is a versatile carrier substance that could also possibly be the trigger for the allergic reactions to the Biontech vaccine reported in the UK.
How long is this warning valid?
Bieber: Until we know more about the two cases out of more than 130,000 vaccinations currently given in the UK. The information about the allergy cases will be made available to all national regulatory authorities. In Germany, the Paul Ehrlich Institute is the higher federal authority responsible for vaccines. The cases mentioned are now also being analysed there.
Is vaccination an issue with your patients?
Bieber: Yes, there are many questions. I just told an elderly man with neurodermatitis and comparatively harmless allergies that I have no reservations about vaccination in his case.
And for yourself?
Bieber: I would have myself and my entire family vaccinated yesterday rather than tomorrow. I am firmly convinced that vaccinations are part of the solution.
(Original text: Andreas Baumann, Translation: Caroline Kusch)