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No Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The initial reports on Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and its coexistence with COVID-19 were perceived frightful for health experts but a new study has confirmed that there is no such relation between these two. In fact, these two don’t share a casual bond at all. The complete study findings are now published in the journal ‘Brain’.

This discussion on a potential link emerged when the reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Stephen Keddie and his colleagues who were working on the epidemiology of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) collected data from the U.K. National Immunoglobulin Database (2016-2019).

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This data on Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) was compared to the cases reported during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with that, the non-COVID-19 related Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) cases were also examined for comparison.

The data from 2016 to 2019 on Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in British hospitals confirmed its incidence between 1.65 and 1.88. It makes nearly 100,000 people per year who are diagnosed with GBS.

During the year 2020, when the whole world was into a deadly pandemic, the cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) hit by COVID-19 emerged in various parts of the world. Apparently, there was no link between these two.

These cases eventually dropped in March to May 2020 as compared to the same month’s data from 2019 to the year 2019.

An individual, cohort study including 47 patients of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), out of which 13 were confirmed COVID-19 patients, and 12 potential and 22 non-COVID-19 cases. The research team found no significant difference among these groups, in terms of weakness, neurophysiology, and even the cerebrospinal fluid findings, and overall group outcomes were similar in all groups.

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The incubation was much more common in COVID-19 patients as compared to non-COVID-19 patients.

This epidemiological study is proof that the increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) cases during the COVID-19 pandemic has no link to the virus. In fact, the cases of GBS decreased during the first wave of coronavirus. So there is literally no information to determine a link between these two factors.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is an extremely rare but severe disease in which the immune system starts attacking itself. This autoimmune disorder can cause weakness, tingling, pain, or numbness in limbs which sometimes feels like paralysis.

There is no known cause behind this disorder but health experts believe that any infectious illness for example gastroenteritis or even a lung infection can cause it. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the incidence of  Guillain-Barré was recorded to be 1 in 100,000 individuals in the US, as per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

As the coronavirus directly affects the lungs, the health experts were largely concerned with this combination of Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID-19 together. But fortunately, there was no link found between these two, which means that COVID-19 patients are not subjected to an irreparable loss.

Not to mention, there is no treatment available for this disease but there are medicines and therapies which can improve its symptoms and save it from severe complications in the longer run.






Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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