Immediate hypersensitivity reactions to COVID-19 vaccines have been postulated to be linked to their excipients, such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) in Pfizer Comirnaty, or polysorbate 80 and ethylenediaminetetracetic acid (EDTA) in AstraZeneca ChAdOx1-S [recombinant] (Vaxzevria). These excipients are potentially found in a range of other products, including injectable and oral medications as well as intravenous radiocontrast media (RCM) and various cosmetic products.
Currently patients with proven excipient allergy may be advised to avoid a COVID-19 vaccine containing that excipient and/or potentially cross-reactive excipients.
We present two cases of previously confirmed EDTA anaphylaxis, who had negative Vaxzevria vaccine in-vivo testing and subsequently tolerated the vaccine.
Case 1: A patient with history of anaphylaxis to RCM and local anaesthetics (LA) had positive intradermal test (IDT) to EDTA nine years earlier. Skin testing to Vaxzeria vaccine (up to 1:10 IDT), Comirnaty vaccine (up to 1:10 IDT) and EDTA 0.3mg/mL IDT were negative. However, following EDTA 3mg/ml IDT, he developed immediate generalised urticaria without anaphylaxis. Basophil activation testing was negative to disodium EDTA, Vaxzevria and Cominarty vaccines. Given the negative in-vitro and in-vivo testing to Vaxzevria vaccine, he proceeded to Vaxzevria immunisation and tolerated both doses.
Case 2: A patient with history of anaphylaxis to RCM had positive skin testing to EDTA and RCM containing EDTA six years earlier. Following referral to COVID19 vaccine clinic, Vaxzevria vaccine (1:10 IDT) and Cominarty vaccine (1:10 IDT) were negative whilst EDTA was positive at 0.3mg/mL IDT. He subsequently tolerated both Vaxzevria vaccinations.
Conclusion: Excipient allergy does not necessarily preclude a patient from receiving a vaccine containing that excipient. Allergy testing can help identify excipient-allergic patients who may still tolerate vaccination, which is important in situations where COVID-19 vaccination options are limited.