A recent study suggests that COVID-19 vaccines could potentially induce rheumatic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (R-IMIDs) such as arthritis, vasculitis, lupus, and adult-onset Still’s disease.
Patients, on average, developed these conditions approximately 11 days after receiving the vaccine.
The study examined 271 participants from 190 case studies around the world, revealing that over 80% of patients exhibited symptoms after their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Encouragingly, over 27% of patients experienced complete disease remission, and roughly half showed improvement following treatment. However, eight individuals required intensive care, and two sadly succumbed to their symptoms.
Vasculitis emerged as the most commonly reported R-IMID in the study, with 86 adverse events recorded. This condition primarily affects small blood vessels, leading to skin abnormalities, and in severe cases, organ damage.
Connective tissue diseases, including lupus and myositis, were also noted, impacting muscle and tissue. Additionally, arthritis was observed in 55 patients, primarily affecting joints in the knees, elbows, and ankles. Adult-onset Still’s disease, a rare condition characterized by fever, joint inflammation, and rashes, was documented in 22 cases, with some patients developing cardiac complications.
The study highlighted a short time frame between vaccination and symptom onset, suggesting a potential causal link. Molecular mimicry, a process where the immune system mistakes foreign substances for its own and reacts, was proposed as a leading explanation for the development of these autoimmune conditions.
It’s theorized that vaccine adjuvants, like aluminum, may structurally resemble human proteins, leading the body to attack its own tissues while targeting these adjuvants. Additionally, the similarity between spike proteins on the COVID-19 virus and human proteins could play a role in triggering autoimmunity.
Lastly, it was suggested that mRNA vaccines may prompt the formation of inflammasomes, clusters of proteins that signal inflammation and viral elimination.