Israel cites 'possible link' between Pfizer vaccine, mild heart inflammation in young men

Israel cites 'possible link' between Pfizer vaccine, mild heart inflammation in young men
© Getty Images

Israel’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday cited a “possible link” between the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and some cases of mild heart inflammation among young men who received the vaccine.

The ministry said in a statement that it concluded “there is some probability for a possible link” between the second dose of the vaccine and the emergence of myocarditis among men aged 16 to 30.

In its research, the Ministry of Health’s three teams of experts found 275 cases of myocarditis reported between December 2020 and May 2021, with 148 cases occurring “around the time of vaccination.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A total of 27 myocarditis cases, including 11 among those with pre-existing conditions, were reported close to the first dose out of more than 5.4 million vaccinations. This amounts to cases arising in 0.0005 percent of first dose vaccinations.

Mild heart inflammation was reported in 121 cases within 30 days from the second dose’s administration, including 60 among those with preexisting conditions. The 121 cases out of almost 5.1 million vaccinations amounts to 0.002 percent of second doses.

The ministry said the cases typically occurred after the second dose, where patients would develop mild illness, chest pains, shortness of breath and rapid heart palpitations.

The incidents were mostly reported among younger men aged 16 to 19, with the link weakening among older populations. Most cases, 95 percent, were considered mild, and patients spent up to four days in the hospital.

Pfizer told The Hill that it was aware of the Israeli research, noting that adverse incidents are “thoroughly reviewed,” including with the Israeli Ministry of Health.

“No causal link to the vaccine has been established,” the statement said. “With more than 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine administered globally, the benefit risk profile of our vaccine remains positive.”

ADVERTISEMENT

But Dror Mevorach, who led the panel of experts investigating the issue, told Science Magazine that the study “is very suggestive of a casual nature,” adding “I am convinced there is a relationship.”

Israel has “relied almost exclusively” on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine throughout its vaccination effort, which has served as a model for other countries for its efficiency, according to the magazine.

The country recorded 36 COVID-19 cases and one death in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University, and has 56.7 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement last month that it was looking into the “relatively few” cases of myocarditis in young people who got the vaccine.

Israel is expected to follow the U.S. in requesting authorization of 12- to 15-year-olds to get the vaccine. The U.S. and Israel granted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine emergency authorization to be administered to those 16 and older in December.