Can the Covid vaccine cause hearing damage? “An element to study”, but “nothing confirmed”

The WHO has launched a signal about a possible link between hearing disorders and vaccines against Covid-19. But the number of cases observed remains, to date, minimal and nothing has been proven.

Could the Covid-19 vaccine make you deaf? In recent days, articles have occupied a publication of the World Health Organization (WHO) dating from February, in which Possible side effects of covid-19 vaccines hearing are underlined. But the number of cases is still minimal and if more advanced investigations are carried out, nothing has been proven so far.

In monitoring patients after vaccination, the WHO has “identified hearing loss (including sudden cases) and tinnitus after Covid-19 vaccination as a preliminary sign to evaluate further.” It’s explained?

Deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus “under surveillance”

“The WHO has identified a signal, which is quite frequent, of an increase in cases of mostly temporary hearing loss,” Stéphane Paul, immunologist and member of the Covid-19 vaccine committee, explains to

As of November 18, 2021, the world organization writes that it has recorded 37,529 cases of hearing loss in 86 countries after vaccination against Covid-19. These disorders were associated with all licensed vaccines, according to the organization. They include cases of “sudden deafness, tinnitus, single-sided deafness, sensorineural hearing loss, deafness, transient deafness, and hearing loss.”

The WHO analyzed a study of more than 500 cases in a dozen countries, for which “the most common correlated symptoms were tinnitus, followed by headache, dizziness and nausea, with many patients experiencing rapid recovery, while some required steroid treatment. The organization says most were “young adults without comorbidities,” although some reported hearing problems in the past.

This side effect is also controlled in France, as several reports from the ANSM (medicines agency) point out. Hearing disorders such as deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus are among the “signs or potential events already under surveillance” regarding the Moderna vaccine. Inside a report from September to November 2021, says the ANSM thus “27 severe cases and 96 non-serious cases” of tinnitus after the Moderna vaccine.

Nothing confirmed at the moment

All comments about these different hearing disorders after a Covid-19 vaccine are being studied very seriously. The WHO therefore hypothesizes the potential link between vaccines and hearing disorders, writing, for example, that a “plausible mechanism of action involving the vestibulocochlear nerve [relatif à l’ouïe, ndlr] was suggested.”

In fact, “if a potential problem is reported after vaccination, a thorough investigation is carried out. The investigation includes a thorough examination of the case in question, including a medical evaluation. If necessary, detailed studies are carried out.” WHO details on a page dedicated to vaccine safety. But “more often than not, health problems turn out to be coincidental, unrelated to vaccination.”

In the case of hearing disorders, on the one hand, it should be noted that the number of cases identified is extremely minimal, compared to the 4.5 billion people vaccinated worldwide against Covid-19.

On the other hand, the ANSM points out that in France, “the prevalence of tinnitus varies between 10 and 15% of the adult population”, however, “the notification rate” of tinnitus after the Moderna vaccine notified to the ANSM “is 123 cases per 10,973,414 injections performed or 0.11 cases per 100,000 injections,” he writes. These hearing disorders could therefore be uncorrelated with vaccination and correspond to an ordinary onset.

Why report these cases if nothing is proven?

“These cases would appear in a period compatible with an effect of vaccination” but “there is clearly nothing proven”, says Stéphane Paul. “From my point of view, it is an element to study and follow, but to date the causality is far from being proven.”

It is recommended to report the various cases of suspected side effects after taking a new medicine, or here a vaccine, because this makes it possible to identify the harmful effects that would not have been collected during the various phases of the studies. Thus, for Stéphane Paul, the WHO study of hearing disorders is proof “that pharmacovigilance still works very well”.

“Knowledge of this possible link can help health professionals and vaccinated people to monitor symptoms and seek care, if necessary,” the WHO writes.

salome vincent

salome vincent BFMTV journalist

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