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Swine flu vaccine increases the risk of narcolepsy in adolescents
The swine flu vaccine Pandemrix® is suspected to cause narcolepsy in adolescents. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has therefore recommended that children and adolescents under the age of 20 not use the controversial vaccine.
In February, the Finnish Health Institute (THL) in Helsinki presented test results that showed that the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix favored the occurrence of narcolepsy (sleeping sickness), especially in children. In comparable epidemiological studies in adolescents, Swedish researchers also found an increased risk of narcolepsy from the swine flu vaccine. The European Medicines Agency was now forced to react and therefore recommends in a current press release that it should not use Pandemrix® in adolescents.
European Medicines Agency Warning About Swine Flu Vaccine Criticism of the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix has been widespread from the start. In particular, the risk of significant side effects caused uncertainty in the population. In addition, since the spread of swine flu was nowhere near the extent originally suspected by worried doctors and authorities, the Germans were extremely reluctant to take the appropriate vaccinations. Not necessarily a bad decision, as it turns out afterwards. Swedish and Finnish studies have come to the conclusion that the swine flu vaccine in children and adolescents can significantly increase the risk of narcolepsy. In a current press release, the European Medicines Agency therefore points out that people under the age of 20 should only receive Pandemrix if protection against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus is urgently needed, but no trivalent flu vaccine with the corresponding virus component is available.
Swine flu vaccine increases the risk of sleeping sickness The evaluation of "all currently available data on the possible connection between Pandemrix and narcolepsy" is the reason for the current warning against the use of the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix, according to the EMA report. The epidemiological studies from Finland and Sweden, the safety data from the health authorities and the case reports from various EU countries, as well as the preliminary results of an epidemiological study by the VAESCO network (Vaccine Adverse Events Surveillance and Communication) of the European health authority ECDC, suggest that the swine flu vaccine in children and adolescents is associated with a significantly increased risk of narcolepsy, reports the EMA. For example, the Scandinavian studies have shown that vaccination with Pandemrix in adolescents increases the risk of the normally extremely rare sleeping sickness 6 to 13 times. However, the number of cases with three to six additional narcolepsy diseases per 100,000 vaccinations is relatively manageable. In addition, the swine flu vaccine would not have increased the risk of narcolepsy in people over 20 years of age. In its current press release, the EMA still assumes that Pandemrix as a whole can be attributed to a positive benefit-risk ratio.
Connection between Pandemrix and the risk of narcolepsy According to the experts, it cannot be explained in what way the swine flu vaccine increases the risk of narcolepsy based on the studies to date. However, the EMA believes that an interaction of the vaccine with genetic or environmental factors could be responsible. In addition, other influencing factors, such as certain infectious diseases, especially diseases of the upper respiratory tract, seem to play a role, the EMA reported. The Finnish and Swedish studies could not be easily transferred to other European countries, so that, according to the EMA, further research appears necessary to finally clarify the connection between Pandemrix and an increased risk of narcolepsy.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer announces educational studies The manufacturer of the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix, the company Glaxo-Smith-Kline (GSK), said in a recent statement that responsibility for the safety of patients is taken very seriously and with its own studies to clarify the possibly increased narcolepsy - want to contribute risks. According to the pharmaceutical manufacturer, more than 31 million doses of the swine flu vaccine have been administered worldwide and only 335 narcolepsy cases in vaccinated people have been reported, 68 percent of which were recorded in Finland and Sweden. Given that narcolepsy is usually a very rare disease, with a new incidence rate of around one case per 100,000 people annually, the numbers given by Glaxo-Smith-Kline seem to be within reason at first glance. But the Scandinavian studies suggest a different conclusion.
40,000 sleeping sickness patients in Germany According to information from the German Society for Sleep Medicine (DGSM), a total of around 40,000 people in Germany suffer from narcolepsy, with only 4,000 people being diagnosed with it. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which in Germany is responsible for the safety of vaccines, one in a million children fall ill every year in Germany. According to the experts, sleeping sickness (narcolepsy) is essentially characterized by four different symptoms, which usually occur in varying degrees. These are a sudden need to sleep, cataplexies (loss of muscle tension), an abnormal sleep rhythm and sleep paralysis (sleep paralysis). For narcolepsy patients, the disease often has significant restrictions in everyday private and professional life, the experts explained. The exact causes of sleeping sickness are still unknown, but in the professional world a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental influences are considered to be the probable triggers of the disease.
Swine flu vaccine criticized from the start With the current warnings from the EMA, criticism of the controversial swine flu vaccine has reached a new level. Up until now, anti-vaccine pandemics in particular have criticized Pandemrix for possible side effects, as general skin reactions including hives (urticaria) have occasionally occurred and in rare cases nerve pain (neuralgia) and seizures have been recorded, according to the statement on the vaccine-critical Internet portal "www.impfschaden.info" . Allergic reactions, which in rare cases have led to shock, are also reported here. The portal also mentions isolated inflammation of the blood vessels and neurological diseases such as inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (encephalomyelitis) as possible consequences of a Pandemrix vaccination. However, the current warning from the EMA has a far greater scope than the criticism of opponents of vaccination, which is not widely registered in public. (fp)
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