Hongkonger suffering facial paralysis after Covid-19 vaccine still recovering following week in hospital

Danny Mok
·3-min read

A young and healthy Hong Kong man who suffered paralysis to half of his face after receiving a Covid-19 jab has returned home from a week in hospital, but says he has still not recovered from the ordeal.

Wilson Lam, 26, fainted shortly after he was given the Sinovac shot on March 24 and woke up in hospital with Bell’s palsy, a condition causing temporary facial paralysis. Doctors told him the problems he was continuing to experience could last several months.

The registered construction worker reported feeling dizzy about 15 minutes after getting the jab at the community vaccination centre in Tseung Kwan O Sports Centre. He fainted as he walked out of the centre at about 3pm and was immediately sent to hospital.

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Young Hong Kong man describes paralysis ordeal after receiving Covid-19 vaccine

In hospital, Lam found he could not close his left eye and his mouth was lodged out of position to the right. Feeling dizzy and experiencing chest pain, he was in hospital until Tuesday but continued to suffer ill effects.

“I still cannot blink my left eye and my lips are still crooked with some difficulties in speaking and eating,” Lam said on Wednesday.

He said the swelling to his face had subsided a little and he was able to open his right eye wider than he could before the treatment.

The man told the Post earlier he was healthy and active, playing football and running regularly, and that the only significant illness in his medical history was a bout of hives when he was 15, from which he had made a full recovery.

Lam said last week during his hospital stay that doctors had not reached a conclusion on whether his illness was related to the Sinovac jab. The government has approached the doctors involved to learn more about the case.

Lam is the 12th known city resident to experience Bell’s palsy after receiving a jab. The others were all men aged between 37 and 86. All of those took the China-made Sinovac jab except for one, who was given a BioNTech shot, the only other Covid-19 vaccine to be offered in Hong Kong so far.

The government lists Bell’s palsy as a rare side effect of the German-produced BioNTech jabs only.

Medical experts have found no direct link between the 11 cases and the jabs.

Wilson Lam, 26. Photo: Handout
Wilson Lam, 26. Photo: Handout

Experts monitoring vaccinations in the city said last week they would continue to keep a close eye on the situation and advise authorities and manufacturers to update their product description if the number of vaccinated people who developed the condition was higher than the prevalence of Bell’s palsy among the general population who had not received shots.

Lam, who was prescribed steroids, eye drops and antiviral medicine during his hospital stay, said his doctors told him it was likely the paralysis would be gone within six months but also warned there were permanent issues in some cases.

Lam added he “definitely” regretted having the jab, saying he had no plans to take the second dose.

Yet to decide whether to pursue compensation from the government, he said: “The most important thing now is to get it cured.”

Before the mass inoculations began on February 26, the government set aside HK$1 billion (US$128 million) for an indemnity fund to offer compensation to anyone suffering from serious adverse reactions.

Lam said he would not be returning to work for now, as he urged health authorities to bring forward a follow-up neurological consultation scheduled for the end of this month.

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