Graves Disease & COVID-19 Vaccination

September 25, 2023

A number of case reports have been published discussing patients developing Graves’ disease following COVID-19 vaccination (1, 2, 3).  Some have hypothesized that adjuvants used in mRNA vaccines could cause the condition via molecular mimicry. A new study from the University of Washington Seattle may help assuage concern.

Researchers used clinical records to examine the rates of Graves’ hyperthyroidism diagnosis during two time periods: one before Covid vaccines were approved for emergency use (from December 2017 to October 2019), and one after Covid vaccine approval (from December 2020 to October 2022). Because this was a retrospective study and the pandemic likely caused a lower rate of hospital visits, researchers used the number of people already diagnosed with Graves’ disease who came into the hospital during both time periods as controls.

The study found no significant difference in rates of Graves’ disease before and after Covid vaccination. Additionally, researchers did not find any demographic differences between patients who were diagnosed with Graves’ disease before vaccination, and those diagnosed after. When comparing vaccine manufacturers, there was still no difference in rates of Graves’ disease. Researchers also looked at levels of thyroid antibodies in the blood of patients with Graves’ hyperthyroidism before and after vaccination (after a month and after three months) and found no significant difference. The findings of this study suggest that Covid vaccination does not cause Graves’ disease, nor does it increase the levels of antibodies in those who already have the condition.