Mexican with allergic reaction after Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine still hospitalized

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican doctor who had a serious allergic reaction after receiving Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s vaccine against COVID-19 remains hospitalized and has not fully recovered muscle strength, health authorities said on Wednesday.

Soldiers move a box with doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, at the air force base in Apodaca, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

The 32-year-old internist, who got the vaccine on Dec. 30, had several seizures in the following days and is being treated in a specialized hospital that is part of Mexico’s social security institute IMSS.

The health ministry’s initial diagnosis after the reaction was encephalomyelitis. Encephalomyelitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The ministry has said the doctor has a history of allergic reactions.

Victor Hugo Borja, an IMSS director, said the doctor has so far responded favorably to treatment, has had no new seizures, and recovered some of the muscle strength lost.

“Today, she’s been able to sit up and it’s possible she’ll be discharged in the following days,” said Borja at a news conference.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it was carefully monitoring allergic reactions to the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc and urged individuals who had a serious reaction not to get the second dose.

A study published on Wednesday in the CDC’s weekly report on death and disease looking at cases between Dec. 14 and Dec. 23 identified 21 cases of anaphylaxis after the administration of 1,893,360 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Doctors are still studying whether the doctor’s seizures and decreased muscle strength are related to the vaccine against COVID-19 or previous conditions. The ministry has said there is no evidence from clinical trials that anyone has developed an inflammation of the brain after the vaccine’s application.

Pfizer said it is aware that the health ministry is studying the case and vowed to continue to collaborate “with any information that is requested from us.”

Mexico started its COVID-19 vaccination plan before Christmas, giving frontline workers priority.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Sonya Hepinstall