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BSI response to reports of two allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination

9 December 2020

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued precautionary advice that people who have a history of significant allergic reactions should not currently receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This advice follows reports that two people had allergic reactions after receiving the vaccination yesterday.  In response, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement.

Professor Peter Openshaw, past-President of the British Society for Immunology and Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, said:

“As with all food and medications, there is a very small chance of an allergic reaction to any vaccine.  However, it is important that we put this risk in perspective. The occurrence of any allergic reaction was one of the factors monitored in the phase 3 clinical trial of this Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the detailed data from which was released yesterday. In this, they reported a very small number of allergic reactions in both the vaccine and placebo groups (0.63% and 0.51%).

“Similar to the rollout of all new vaccines and medications, this new COVID-19 vaccine is being monitored closely by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). They will now investigate these cases in more detail to understand if the allergic reactions were linked to the vaccine or were incidental. The fact that we know so soon about these two allergic reactions and that the regulator has acted on this to issue precautionary advice shows that this monitoring system is working well.”