The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly investigating after a handful of people came down with what are believed to be allergic reactions to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
According to The Hill, the FDA is looking into at least five instances of likely allergic reactions caused by the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19.
The news came amid reports that three health care workers in Alaska had experienced what the Washington Examiner described as “adverse reactions” to the vaccine, including one who had “‘traditional anaphylactic symptoms’ such as tongue swelling, voice hoarseness, and breathing difficulties about 10 minutes after the vaccine was administered.” As of Saturday, all three were “said to be healthy, and none of them are hospitalized,” the Examiner reported.
A day earlier, The New York Times reported that two other health care workers in Alaska experienced allergic reactions, as well as two in Britain. All have recovered, the Times said.
“Looking at all the data”
In the wake of the news, Peter Marks, who heads the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the FDA is investigating reactions in Alaska and elsewhere.
“We are working hand in hand with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and we’ve actually been working closely with our United Kingdom colleagues, who of course reported the allergic reaction,” Marks explained, according to The Hill.
“I think we’ll be looking at all the data we can from each of these reactions to sort out exactly what happened, and we’ll also be looking to try to understand which component of the vaccine might be helping to produce them,” he added.
The plan for now, according to Marks, is to continue “monitoring very closely what’s going on,” while in the meantime ensuring that “treatment for a severe allergic reaction” is “at the ready” for those receiving the vaccine.
An uphill battle
Another vaccine, developed by Moderna, started being shipped out on Sunday, according to NBC News.
But officials face an uphill battle in convincing everyday Americans to get vaccinated — and reports of reactions like these aren’t helping. With this in mind, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn attempted to provide some reassurance.
“FDA takes very seriously the safety of the medical products that we authorize and approve, and certainly in a vaccine setting,” he said, according to The Hill. “One of the things that FDA does very well and uniquely is really getting to the bottom of events like allergic reactions so we can completely understand the circumstances and better inform the public and also our regulatory decisions,” Hahn added.