Myocarditis: Expert discusses vaccine side effect

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Widely considered “safe and effective”, Covid vaccines are the most potent weapon you can add to your arsenal of protection against coronavirus. But just like any medication, Covid jabs are also linked to possible side and adverse effects. While not everyone experiences unwanted effects, new research sheds light on which Covid vaccine is linked to the highest risk of heart inflammation.

There’s no doubt that all of the leading health bodies, including the NHS and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree that Covid jabs are not only safe but they also reduce your risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

What’s more, all of the approved vaccines have been through several stages of rigorous clinical trials before they were approved for use.

While they can cause certain side effects, just like any other medicine you take, not everyone develops them, the NHS explains.

One of the more daunting problems linked both to an ongoing Covid infection and the vaccine is heart inflammation.

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Whether that’s inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis, inflammation of the lining around your heart known as pericarditis or combination of both dubbed as myopericarditis.

Now, new research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the occurrence of these three conditions is “two- to threefold higher” after a second dose of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine compared to the Pfizer jab.

The study also showed that males younger than 40 years old who received the Moderna jab seem to experience the highest rates of myocarditis.

The research team penned that this may have implications for choosing specific vaccines for certain populations.

A spokesperson for Moderna, said: “Myocarditis is a known and very rare risk associated with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. When it does occur, cases are generally mild and resolve after a few days with treatment and rest. 

“Current evidence indicates that at a population level, the risk of myocarditis after COVID-19 infection is much higher than after COVID-19 vaccination.

“mRNA-1273 has been administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide and has been shown to be effective against both the original strain of the virus and its major variants.

“Regulatory agencies around the world have stated that the benefits of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines significantly outweigh the risk across all age groups.”

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What did the study find?

The study participants were 18 years old or older and had received their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in British Columbia, Canada, between January and September 2021. 

In total, more than 2.2 million second Pfizer doses and more than 870,000 Moderna doses were administered. 

Within 21 days of the second jab, there were a total of 59 myocarditis cases (21 Pfizer and 31 Moderna) and 41 pericarditis cases (21 Pfizer and 20 Moderna). 

This data suggested that there is a “threefold” higher risk of heart inflammation after Moderna shots but overall cases of this condition with either vaccine are “very rare”.

Furthermore, the study also has some limitations as it was merely observational, which limits the ability to determine causality between vaccination and the heart conditions. 

A spokesperson for Moderna, added: “As noted by the lead author, the self-limiting and mild nature of most myocarditis events, benefits provided by vaccination, higher effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine against infection and hospitalisation [found in prior studies], and the apparent higher risk of myocarditis following COVID-19 infection than with mRNA vaccination, are key implications for consideration.   

“Patient health and ensuring the safety of our vaccines is Moderna’s top priority. 

“Moderna shares all adverse events data with regulators and has a robust pharmacovigilance function, ensuring any adverse events are recorded and shared with the regulator in line with local regulations.”

Furthermore, Guy Witberg, a cardiologist at Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tikva, Israel, concluded that this data should be “reassuring for vaccine safety” since it provides further information that myocarditis is a very rare adverse event after both vaccines

“[The study] should help put to rest ‘vaccine hesitancy’ due to concerns over cardiac adverse events,” he said.

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