Mateu Orfila Hospital, Minorca. | Tolo Mercadal

The Ministry of Health reported the first serious adverse reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Balearic Islands on Friday.

A 38-year-old woman who received the first dose of the drug on March 6 in Minorca has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

GBS is a rare disease of the nervous system in which the individual's own immune system damages the neurons, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

The patient was admitted to the Emergency Department at Mateu Orfila Hospital on Sunday with an intense headache, which improved with analgesics.

On Thursday, the patient was treated for a second time at the Emergency Department for neck and lower back pain and weakness in her legs. She was admitted to the Neurology department and diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome and on Friday she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit.

Dr Tamara Contreras del Pino, Medical Director at the Mateu Orfila Hospital explained that "the patient has been in the ICU for a very short time and it’s too soon to know what her evolution will be."

Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs days or weeks after a respiratory or digestive infection, it’s rarely caused by surgery and any association with a vaccine is extremely rare.

The Ministry of Health says the case is being studied to determine the origin of the patient’s disorder, but at this time there is no direct relationship with AstraZeneca.

"There is no certainty that there is a relationship with the AstraZeneca vaccination but we are obliged to investigate it," said Dr Contreras. "Guillain-Barrées Syndrome is a long illness and in 25% of cases the patient needs ICU care; the last serious patient we had was in 2019.”

The Ministry of Health has called for calm and pointed out that the European Medicines Agency announced on Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and safe.

The Balearic Islands will resume AstraZeneca vaccinations on Wednesday.