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Heart inflammation cases after Covid vaccines rise – as UK regulators say side-effect is ‘very rare’


HEART inflammation is “possibly” linked with Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines, scientists say, as more cases have been found.

It comes as UK medicine regulators give the first signal of concern in vaccinated Brits. 

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Chest pain is the main feature of myocarditis and pericarditis - both being investigated as caused by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines

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Chest pain is the main feature of myocarditis and pericarditis – both being investigated as caused by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinesCredit: Getty – Contributor

Cases are being probed by health officials and scientists alike but so far no concrete conclusion has been made.

The conditions reported are myocarditis, which causes inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is inflammation of the lining outside the heart.

Two new studies, published in JAMA Cardiology, have provided more evidence of the serious, but extremely rare, side effect.

One study found 23 cases of heart inflammation in the US military after they had shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna – which use the same vaccine technology called mRNA.

The US military has given more than 2.8 million doses of vaccines, meaning if the side effect is proven, it is rarer than one in 100,000. 

Nineteen of the men had been given their second shot.

The number of cases were higher than what would have been expected – a predicted eight or fewer cases from the 436,000 male military members who received two shots.

A separate study investigated four cases of heart inflammation after a second dose of a Pfizer of Moderna jab.

All had been hospitalised suffering chest pain – a typical sign of the condition. But they were discharged without any long-lasting problems.

The researchers wrote in their paper: “It is possible that these four cases of acute myocarditis represent a rare, potential adverse event linked to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

“The findings from the present report raise the possibility of an association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccination and acute myocarditis.”

MHRA CONCERN

Amid growing concern in the states, the UK medicine regulator has now changed its stance on the issue and may soon issue a warning. 

It has previously said cases are no higher than in the general population.

But in a bulletin released on Friday June 25, this statement was removed and the experts said of cases in vaccinated people: “These are typically mild cases and individuals tend to recover within a short time following standard treatment and rest.”

Symptoms of the heart inflammation linked to Covid jabs
Symptoms of the heart inflammation linked to Covid jabs

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Both myocarditis and pericarditis are usually caused by a viral infection, bacteria, parasite or fungi.

Covid itself can lead to heart inflammation, doctors say, sometimes lasting several months as a symptom of long Covid.

But in the JAMA study of four patients with the conditions after a jab, researchers said there was no evidence they had previously suffered Covid.

The main symptoms to look out for, according to the British Heart Foundation and the Mayo Clinic, are:

  • a stabbing pain and/or tightness in the chest which may spread across the body (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, tiredness and fatigue (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • fluid retention with swelling of your legs, ankles and feet (myocarditis and pericarditis)
  • shortness of breath when lightly exercising or walking (myocarditis)
  • difficulty breathing when resting (myocarditis)
  • palpitations or an abnormal heart rhythm (myocarditis)
  • a sudden shortness of breath – if you experience this get urgent medical help (pericarditis)
  • pain in the neck that may spread across the shoulders and/or arms (pericarditis)
  • nausea or feeling light headed (pericarditis)

Dr Matthew Oster, from the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, said: “mRNA vaccines may be a new trigger for myocarditis, yet it does have some different characteristics.”

The most common symptoms reported by patients were chest pain, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping.

It added, according to the Independent: “While reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with AstraZeneca have also been received, there is insufficient evidence to recommend similar warnings.”

“Healthcare professionals should be alert to the signs and symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis.

“Vaccinated individuals should also seek immediate medical attention should they experience new chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations or arrhythmias.”

In its latest report of side effects, it said there have been 88 cases of heart conditions among 27.7 million Pfizer shots, and three after 73,000 Moderna shots.

There have also been 119 among 44.1 million Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine shots. 

The MHRA said it is “closely monitoring cases” and urged people to get their second doses when invited.

A spokesperson told MailOnline: “These reports are very rare.”

GROWING EVIDENCE

It comes after growing evidence that cases of heart inflammation are higher than the norm, particularly among younger men.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most cases have occurred in “male adolescents and young adults aged 16 years or older”.

Patients have usually been given their second dose and get symptoms several days later.

But the CDC has reminded the public a vaccine is the best way to prevent Covid and the benefits outweigh any potential risks.

The CDC has seen more cases in younger adults, and after second doses

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The CDC has seen more cases in younger adults, and after second doses

And even though cases are mostly in younger people, and children in the US are able to get jabs, researchers fear they are more likely to catch Covid than suffer this rare side effect. 

After an emergency meeting, a panel of experts who advise the CDC agreed on June 23 there was a “likely association” between the jabs and rare heart conditions. 

Dr Matthew Oster, from the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, said: “mRNA vaccines may be a new trigger for myocarditis, yet it does have some different characteristics.”

The most common symptoms reported by patients were chest pain, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping.

Dr Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the Immunization Safety Office at the CDC, said there had been 1,226 cases of myocarditis after mRNA vaccines.

It’s approximately 12.6 heart inflammation cases per million doses given in the US, based on roughly 300 million shots administered as of June 11, the CDC said.

But the cases were more frequent among Moderna’s vaccine recipients at 19.8 cases per million versus eight cases per million for Pfizer’s.

“This is still a rare event,” Dr Shimabukuro said at the meeting. 

The first reports of myocarditis and pericarditis occurred in Israel in January.

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