By Kaden Pradhan
London, United Kingdom
The Israeli government has recently released a study linking the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 to cases of myocarditis in its youth. The investigation, commissioned by the Israeli health ministry, reported “a probable link between receiving the second dose [of the Pfizer vaccine]…and the appearance of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30.”
Researchers were asked to examine 275 cases of myocarditis that had been reported in Israel out of the roughly five million people who have been vaccinated so far. The scientist in charge of the Israeli panel studying the connection, Dror Mevorach, said their findings were “very suggestive of a causal nature” and that he is “convinced there is a relationship.” The majority of those affected are under 30, and the link is most strongly apparent in young men between the ages of sixteen and nineteen. Israeli health officials have emphasized that roughly 95% of patients exhibit only mild symptoms and that most were hospitalized for no more than four days. Despite the results of the study, Israel’s government has approved the Pfizer vaccine for twelve-fifteen-year-olds.
Nachman Ash, the coordinator of Israel’s pandemic response, said on Israeli radio that “the efficacy of the vaccine outweighs the risk” and reiterated that the virus itself can also cause myocarditis as well as other issues. However, an advisory board of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention recommended in May that the link should be examined further. The CDC told the press more recently that “most cases appear to be mild, and a follow-up of cases is ongoing.”
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the central heart muscle, the myocardium. It leads to an enlargement of the heart and causes it to work harder to support the body. Myocarditis is one of the few cardiac diseases equally frequent in the youth as in the older population; the high-risk category is often demarcated as between late adolescence and early adulthood. It is twice as likely to occur in males than females and is the third-highest cause of sudden death in young adults.
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines function through mRNA technology. By causing certain cells to have the COVID-19 spike protein, the immune system is better prepared to combat the real virus. Some researchers have suggested that it is this very spike protein that may be contributing to the occurrence of myocarditis in young males. Professor Peter McCullough of the Texas A&M College of Medicine expressed his extreme concern at the data released in the study. He said that he could no longer broadly recommend the vaccine and that he would continue on a case-by-case basis. McCullough said that since children and young adults cannot benefit from a vaccination, the U.S. vaccination program should be closed. Many other scientists have upheld their position that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for continued use in inoculation programs worldwide.
The manufacturers of the vaccine said they were aware of the study but statistically, the rate of severe myocarditis after the vaccine is not higher than the expected rate in the general population; in fact, some suggest it is somewhat lower. Pfizer said that no provable causal link has been established to their vaccine.