The news about a potential link between the COVID-19 vaccine and a cardiac ailment in young people may be striking fear in the hearts of some parents.
But pediatric cardiologists have a message for these parents: COVID-19 should scare you more — a whole lot more — than the vaccine.
And these doctors should know. They’ve treated young patients who’ve contracted this heart ailment after vaccination — it’s called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle — and they’ve also treated young patients who’ve had COVID-19.
There simply is no comparison between the two, they say.
Myocarditis sounds scary, but there are mild versions of it. In almost all cases among vaccinated young people (they were ages 16 to 24), the symptoms have gone away quickly. COVID-19, on the other hand, can be a long illness, or it can kill a young person — it has already killed thousands of them.
CNN spoke with pediatric cardiologists Dr. Kevin Hall at the Yale School of Medicine and Dr. Stuart Berger at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who is also chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on cardiology and cardiac surgery, about the cases of myocarditis that have been spotted among young people after vaccination with the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.
Both doctors, as well as the American Heart Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for young people.
What causes myocarditis, and how often does it happen to young people?
While myocarditis is relatively uncommon, it does happen to young people (and we mean long before the COVID-19 vaccine ever came along). Usually it’s caused by a viral or bacterial infection. A different vaccine, one against smallpox, has previously been linked to myocarditis.
There’s a wide spectrum of myocarditis. Some people don’t feel anything and they’re fine without treatment. For others, myocarditis can be deadly.
Berger estimates that at the emergency room where he works at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, they see approximately one child a week with the condition in the summer, when coxsackie and other viruses that cause myocarditis are in full bloom. Generally speaking, these young people are otherwise healthy.
People from puberty through their early 30s are at higher risk for myocarditis, according to the Myocarditis Foundation. Males are affected twice as often as females.
How many people in the U.S. have developed myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination?
As of May 31, nearly 170 million Americans had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through that time, fewer than 800 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart), have been reported after receiving the vaccine, according to the CDC, most of them after the second dose. And these are preliminary numbers — they might be lower as further investigation could show that not all of these people actually had myocarditis or pericarditis.
Are these numbers unusual?
As we mentioned, people get myocarditis and pericarditis — inflammation of the lining around the heart — even without the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC set out to determine if the numbers of post-vaccination myocarditis and pericarditis are higher than what you’d see without the Covid-19 vaccine.
The answer was “yes” for people ages 16 to 24. The CDC found that among 16-and 17-year-olds, as of May 31, there were 79 reports of the illnesses soon after vaccination, and ordinarily you’d expect to see around two to 19 cases in this group. Among 18-to-24 year olds, there were 196 reported cases, and you’d expect to see between 8 and 83 cases. There were also reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in older age groups, but the numbers weren’t higher than what you’d normally expect.
Did the myocarditis in these vaccinated young people make them really sick?
It sounds like an inflamed heart would, by definition, always be a huge deal, right? But it isn’t.
“Many times, people have myocarditis and don’t even know it. It goes away and they’re fine,” Berger said.
In the vast majority of these post-vaccination cases, patients had a full recovery.
Looking at 270 patients who were admitted and discharged from the hospital as of May 31, the CDC has found that 81 per cent had full recovery of symptoms. The other 19% had ongoing symptoms or their recovery status was unknown.
Hall, the pediatric cardiologist at Yale, said many of the post-vaccination myocarditis patients at his hospital didn’t feel very sick, but they were admitted so doctors could do more testing and out of an abundance of caution.
“Some of these young men and boys were rather upset that they had to stay in the hospital,” Hall said.
What kinds of symptoms did these young people have?
Hall is co-author of a study published last week looking at seven cases of myocarditis among adolescents after vaccination.
They all had chest pain, and some of them also had fevers or felt weak or tired.
Their symptoms began between two and four days after the second dose of the vaccine. They spent two to six days in the hospital. For all seven patients, their symptoms resolved rapidly with medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and steroids.
All seven of the cases were males. In the CDC report, most of the cases were males.
How do young people do when they get COVID-19?
This gets to the heart of the issue. When young people developed myocarditis following vaccination, the numbers were small, and they weren’t very sick.
While most young people who develop COVID-19 are fine, some do develop complications and even die from the infection.
As of June 9, 2,637 people under age 30 have had deaths that involved COVID-19, according to the CDC. As of June 5, preliminary data shows 3,110 people under the age of 18 have been hospitalized, a number the CDC says is likely an underestimate.
Berger and Hall have each taken care of dozens of COVID patients.
“Some of them spent weeks in the intensive care unit. They had poor heart function. They had acute infections that were completely preventable by the vaccine,” Berger said.
Even if they recovered, some have had long-term illnesses.
“We do remain concerned about these children in the long term,” Hall said. “We have seen some with persistent changes in their cardiac testing. This is a very serious disease.”
Health Canada extends expiry dates for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines set to expire Monday – CityNews Toronto
The Ontario government said Saturday certain lots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire on May 31 can now be used past their original expiry date following authorization by Health Canada.
“Health Canada has issued an authorization to extend the expiry date of specific lots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from six months to seven months, following the review of submitted stability data,” said Alexandra Hilkene, press secretary to the minister of health.
Hilkene said vaccines that were set to expire May 31 can now be used until July 1.
NEW: Health Canada approves extending AstraZeneca expiry date from May 31st to July 1 “following a review of stability data.” It means Ontario’s AZ doses, set to expire this Monday, are no longer at risk of spoilage. #onpoli
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) May 29, 2021
Pharmacies and physicians’ offices had been rushing to administer thousands of shots this weekend ahead of the now-changed expiry date to avoid wasting doses.
The province started offering it for second shots to people who received the dose between March 10 and March 19 at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston, and at some primary care offices.
Approximately 90,000 people participated in the AstraZeneca pilot between March 10 and March 19. Many eager vaccine recipients reported frustration this week when trying to book second doses at pharmacies that were still waiting on delayed supply.
“Acceleration of AstraZeneca second doses will be continued with a 12-week interval, dependent on vaccine supply, with booking eligibility based on the date of the first dose,” Hilkene said Saturday. “AstraZeneca doses will be distributed across the province to be available for individuals at the 12-week interval.”
The province paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month due to an increase in reports of rare but deadly blood clots.
Health Ministry clarifies death of a man and hospitalisation of a woman not related to the AstraZeneca vaccine
The Ministry of Health has clarified that there is no evidence to suggest that the death of a 53 year old man and the hospitalisation of a 65 year old woman suffering severe illness is related to the individuals getting the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
In a statement the Health Ministry says this has been determined by thorough investigations conducted by the Ministry’s clinical and vaccination safety teams.
They say the man received his first dose of the vaccine on 2nd June and he started experiencing severe cardiac like pain that evening and was taken to hospital where he unfortunately passed away prior to arrival.
Investigations conducted by the Ministry’s team have identified the man had a long history of cardiac pain which had not been medically assessed.
The Ministry of Health says assessment by his clinicians is that the man died of a heart attack.
They have also clarified that the 65 year old has a long-standing history of a seizure disorder and other chronic conditions making her susceptible to stroke.
The Ministry says she received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on 4th May 2021 and experienced symptoms consistent with her chronic condition the following day when she was admitted to the hospital.
The statement says the woman has since been discharged from hospital however continues to suffer medical issues.
They say it is apparent that her ongoing medical issues are associated to her existing chronic illnesses and not linked to her COVID-19 vaccination.
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they continue to provide her family with proper medical advice for her health issues. Dr Fong says people do not stop getting serious illness while they are carrying out the vaccination campaign and adds the chance of getting a heart attack is not changed by vaccines.
He says the evidence based on a thorough investigation of both cases suggests that neither was linked to the vaccine and they were caused by the patients’ pre-existing conditions.
Dr Fong says one was an undiagnosed pre-existing condition and the other had a known pre-existing condition.
He adds the Ministry has established a monitoring system and response plan to detect any unexpected medical event after someone has received a vaccine which may or may not be caused by the vaccine.
Meanwhile 237,940 people in Fiji have so far received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
World Health Organization Approves China’s Sinovac Coronavirus Vaccine For Emergency Use
The World Health Organization has approved a coronavirus vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotechfor emergency use as the international health authority seeks to expand the number of vaccines it distributes to fight the pandemic in poor countries, where immunization rates badly trail that in wealthier nations.
A healthcare worker administers a dose of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccine to a woman at a mall … [+]
The WHO has determined the two-dose, inactivated vaccine produced by Beijing-based Sinovac is safe for adults 18 and older, it said Tuesday.
The vaccine prevented symptomatic coronavirus infections in a little more than half of participants in clinical trials and prevented severe infections and hospitalization in 100% of participants.
It’s the second Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine to pass WHO vetting—a vaccine made by China’s state-backed Sinopharm was approved for emergency use in May—and the eighth worldwide.
The WHO’s emergency use designation will pave the way for Sinovac doses to be distributed to developing countries as part of the COVAX initiative.
The WHO noted the Sinovac immunization doesn’t have as rigorous storage specifications as other vaccines, making it more “manageable” for distribution in developing areas.
“The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” Dr. Mariângela Simão, the WHO;s Assistant-Director General for Access to Health Products, in a statement Tuesday. “We urge manufacturers to participate in the COVAX Facility, share their knowhow and data and contribute to bringing the pandemic under control.”
What To Watch For
The approval of a third Chinese coronavirus vaccine. CanSino Biologics submitted data from a clinical trial for its vaccine candidate, but the WHO has not announced a date for a review.
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