By: Gayathri Loka
December 12 2022
No research or report states that Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a side effect of COVID-19 vaccines. The cause of SPS is still being studied.
Celebrated Canadian singer Celine Dion took to Instagram last week to announce that she had been diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) because of which she also had to reschedule a series of concerts. In the five-minute long video, the singer said the disorder affects one in a million people, and was the cause of all her spasms. She said she had difficulty walking and her singing was getting affected as well.
Following Dion’s announcement, some social media posts claimed that SPS is a side-effect of the COVID-19 vaccines. One such Facebook post read, "Céline Dion has "Stiff Person Syndrome” (don’t laugh, even though I did). A well known incurable side effect of the jab." Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the term "jab" has usually been associated with COVID-19 vaccines. The post in question was published by one Jeff J. Gallant. Gallant had previously shared various false and misleading narratives around COVID-19, and conspiracy theories about climate change among other unsubstantiated claims which have been debunked by various fact-checking outlets. Other people or groups posting similar claims about SPS have also been posting anti-vaccine on their respective pages and accounts.
According to the United States’ National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Stiff Person Syndrome is a "rare progressive neurological disorder that affects the nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord." Symptoms of the disorder include stiff muscles, rigidity, and painful spasms in the trunk and limbs, severely impairing mobility. Research regarding the cause of SPS is still ongoing. SPS is managed with anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant drugs or drugs that alleviate muscle spasms. No studies or reports state that COVID-19 vaccines are a cause of SPS or that SPS is a side effect of the vaccine.
The NHS (National Health Services—healthcare system of the United Kingdom) website lists cough, fever, cold, headache, and fatigue as some of the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. The website does not mention SPS as a side effect. Similarly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also does not list SPS as a potential adverse reaction to COVID-19 vaccines. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) does not mention the disorder as a common” or a less-common side effect. The WHO also mentions that “COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and getting vaccinated will help protect you against developing severe COVID-19 disease and dying from COVID-19”.
In 2021, claims about Dion being paralyzed due to COVID-19 vaccine side effects had emerged on social media when she canceled shows due to muscle spasms. Politico had then reported that none of the singer’s social media accounts mentioned that COVID-19 vaccines were responsible for her ailments.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many social media posts have claimed that "the jab" is fatal and should not be taken. These claims have been previously debunked by Logically and other credible organizations stating that they are false or misleading.
There are no reports that prove SPS is a side effect of COVID-19 vaccines. The claim emerged after Dion announced her condition and stemmed from an anti-vaccine narrative. Hence, we mark this claim false.