No! Justin Bieber’s face was not paralyzed by the Covid-19 vaccines

Not only would the vaccine against Covid-19 cause facial paralysis, but this contraindication would also have affected the hugely popular singer Justin Bieber: this is the news that has been circulating lately in No-Vax circles. Let’s see why, even if the pop-star was the victim of a frightening accident that atrophied part of her face, the Coronavirus vaccine has nothing to do with it.

For those in a hurry:

  • Several posts circulating online claim that the facial paralysis that affected half of Justin Bieber’s face on June 10 was caused by the Coronavirus vaccines.
  • In fact, the singer stated that he had been diagnosed with a neurological condition called Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  • Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in people who have had chickenpox in the past.
  • There is no convincing evidence that vaccinated people are more likely to develop facial paralysis than unvaccinated people (nor that Bieber received the Covid vaccine).

Analyses

«Pfizer Smile»: this writing accompanies four photos, in a post shared on Facebook last June 16th. In the images, you can see the smile of as many people broken by what appears to be facial paralysis: the allusion is to the alleged side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine, which would have affected even the international star Justin Bieber.

Justin Bieber was forced to postpone his world tour dates this month after announcing he contracted a rare disease. On June 10, the singer posted a video on Instagram announcing that he had been diagnosed with a neurological condition called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. In the video, Bieber explained that the condition was caused by a “virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and caused paralysis of my face.” The clip quickly went viral, amassing tens of millions of views in just a few days, and thousands of supportive comments.

But along with the messages of solidarity, tens of thousands of posts soon began surfacing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter speculating a link between Bieber’s facial paralysis and the COVID-19 vaccine (for example here and here), some of whom called Ramsay Hunt syndrome “vaccine damage” (here and here ). Articles have also been published on some American sites, for example, entitled “Why I am 99% sure that Justin Bieber’s facial paralysis was caused by the COVID vaccine.” But is it really so?

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in people who have had chickenpox in the past. In fact, even after healing, the virus can remain dormant in the nervous tissue, but it can also happen that it reactivates, depending on the circumstances, in the form of shingles. Specifically, Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs when shingles affects the facial nerve, causing facial paralysis and hearing loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in three people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their life.

The categories most at risk are those with a weakened immune system due to ongoing infections, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cancer therapy, or immunosuppressive drugs. Justin Bieber has opened up about his health problems in the past, telling fans on his YouTube series “Seasons” in 2020 that he suffered from Lyme disease and the Epstein-Barr virus. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is treated with antivirals and steroids, and treatment within three days of symptoms usually leads to some improvement. However, it can take weeks, sometimes months, to recover, and sometimes the damage can be permanent.

What do vaccines against Covid-19 have to do with it

We come to the link between this type of syndrome and Coronavirus, and we begin by specifying that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause the Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Researchers have documented cases of people developing shingles, or Ramsay Hunt after vaccination, but no causal link with the vaccines has been established. It must be considered that the syndrome also occurs in unvaccinated people, and according to the information available there is no evidence that the syndrome occurs more or less frequently in this category of subjects rather than in that of the vaccinated.

Finally, as if all this were not enough, remember that there is no public evidence that Bieber has received the vaccine against Covid-19. We do know, however, that he tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of February 2022, and that SARS-CoV2 infection is associated with an increased risk of developing shingles. A study published in March found that people aged 50 and over with even mild cases of COVID-19 were 15% more likely to develop shingles than those who had not been infected. That risk has grown to 21% among people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Conclusions

Singer Justin Bieber was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare neurological condition caused by a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, not the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no convincing evidence that vaccinated people are more likely to develop facial paralysis than unvaccinated people, while it is true that paralysis occurs more frequently in people who have been infected with Sars-Cov2. Given this correlation, therefore, the Covid-19 vaccine is an indirect deterrent against Ramsey Hunt’s disease, and not, as claimed on Facebook, its cause.

This article contributes to a Facebook project to fight fake news and disinformation on its social platforms. Laws here for more information on our partnership with Facebook.

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