Taste that? Thousands of Britons reporting a peculiar taste following Covid vaccination

Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines

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The Covid vaccination campaign has been a thumping success in the UK and the impotence of Omicron points to the effectiveness of vaccine-induced immunity. The unprecedented speed and scale of the vaccination effort has also yielded insights into the various effects of vaccination on the body. The ZOE COVID Study app has provided a goldmine of data on this, with over a million users logging their side effects post-vaccination.

According to Professor Tim Spector, head of the ZOE app, thousands of Britons are reporting a peculiar taste in their mouth following Covid vaccination.

“It’s one of the rare things we have picked up in the app,” Professor Spector explained in a recent YouTube video.

According to the professor, 5,0195 users have logged metallic taste as a vaccine side effect in the app.

This represents only 3.6 percent of the side effects reported so it’s a rare phenomenon, he pointed out.

“It’s actually quite rare but if you do experience it, you’ll be interested to find out what it means.”

For starters, the side effect is not generally showing up in isolation.

According to data analysed by Prof Spector and the ZOE team, metallic taste in the mouth and a small bleeding at the site of the vaccination have been reported.

As the ZOE lead explained, 7.6 percent of people reporting small bleeding at the site of vaccination are also reporting metallic taste which invites the question: are the side effects connected?

According to Prof Spector, 85 percent of users reporting metallic taste and one local side effect, such as a bruised arm, also reported one systemic side effect, such as fatigue after injection.

While this may seem high, when the ZOE team compared it to the accounts of any systemic side effect, such as pain in the arm, that was already at 81 percent so “no strong association there”, noted prof Spector.

“But 15 percent of users reporting at least one local side effect and metallic taste reported having five or distinct or systemic side effects in the week after vaccination and that was higher than the 5.8 percent who didn’t have metallic taste,” he said.

This does indicate a large difference in people reporting something soon after injection and some long-term effect but context is important here, the ZOE lead said.

“This large difference is the same as people reporting pain in the arm,” Prof Spector explained.

“We are getting a similar order of magnitude risk with any local side effect and future systemic side effect.”

The metallic taste is comparable to having a tender or painful arm and this suggests it isn’t a cause for concern as any of the major side effects.

Interestingly, the ZOE data found women were twice as likely as men to report the metallic taste but there is “no clue” as to why this might be, Prof Spector said.

What could be causing this side effect?

According to Prof Spector, there have been reports of a metallic taste following vaccination for many years. 

“It is a general phenomenon reported in people having all types of injection into muscles,” he explained

“They may be getting a greater amount of the drug into their blood vessels or something else.”

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