Scientists home in on potential cause of rare COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions

Scientists are investigating the possible cause of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded six severe allergic reactions (all successfully treated) from 272,001 through December 19, and the compound known as PEG, polyethylene glycol, has become a prime suspect in the EU cases reports the Wall Street Journal. While PEG is still speculative at this point - allergies to PEG are rare and the reactions might be due to something else - PEG is found in other drugs, cosmetics, and foods and is known to cause anaphylaxis in rare cases, albeit not in all forms of the compound are "equal" in terms of allergic potential.
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Part of the challenge in identifying PEG as the likely catalyst for the reactions is that the compound in the vaccines "is different from what has been previously associated with allergic reactions," said James Baker, immunologist, director of the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan, the journal said.
PEG is also included in the Moderna vaccine. A health care worker became the first known person to have an allergic reaction to the shot on Thursday. Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, who said he had allergies in the past, reported tingling, an increased heart rate and low blood pressure shortly after being vaccinated. The symptoms were similar to a reaction he had previously had to shellfish, he said. He was released a few hours later.
Despite the rare incidents - more than 1 million Americans have been vaccinated - scientists and public health officials believe the vaccines are safe, effective and critical to ending the pandemic. Read more in the Wall Street Journal and on CNN.
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